Ban nuclear weapons in an Independent Scotland (draft)

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Ban nuclear weapons in an Independent Scotland

There are 3 questions which any pro-nuclear person should be asked:

  1. Is it worth paying billions for a weapon which you wouldn’t use?
  2. Would you use a nuclear weapon to attack another country?
  3. Under what circumstances would you use a nuclear weapon?

Presuming the answer to the first 2 question is “No”, and you are subject to a nuclear attack, then your nuclear weapons have not defended you or acted as a deterrent. You know you are already about to be wiped out, and have to decide to use your weapons in retaliation. This is the dilemma faced by Stanislav Petrov (the man who saved the world) – would YOU would press the button? The use of a nuclear bomb is both immoral and illegal.

Nuclear weapons are irrelevant to the international threats we face today – climate change, terrorism, cyber attacks, poverty. The money could be spent far better elsewhere – on health and education, for example. We can’t afford to replace Trident – spending £205 billion on a nuclear weapon at a time of economic austerity.

The underlying assumptions upon which Trident rests are no longer true. In 1980-81, the nuclear “deterrent” took 1.5% of the MoD budget, whereas its successor may in time account for as much as 10%. The former defence minister and select committee chair James Arbuthnot has publicly questioned the logic of Trident. Field Marshal Lord Bramall and generals Ramsbotham and Beach denounced it as “irrelevant). Philip Hammond said: ‘North Korea seems to think possessing a nuclear weapon makes them safe. In fact it’s the opposite. Having a nuclear weapon makes them a target.’ The policy of “mutually assured destruction” is literally MAD.

The delivery system consists of 4 Vanguard submarines based at HMNB Clyde at Faslane. Trident is not independent – it is manufactured and maintained in the USA, and may need US approval before it can be used.

The effects of accidents (or terrorist attacks) involving nuclear weapons or nuclear power stations could be as devastating as a nuclear attack, as we saw in 1986 at Chernobyl. The effects of accidents (or terrorist attacks) in nuclear power stations are well illustrated by Fukushima in 2011. The regular transport of nuclear bombs in convoys through Scottish cities is a major risk to public health.

Nuclear bombs are Weapons of Mass Destruction – the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs killed 129,000-246,000 people instantly. You have to watch the CND film of nuclear explosions to see the devastating impact. Setsuko Thurlow survived when U.S. warplanes dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The UK retains a stockpile of 215 warheads, of which 150 are operational as of 2016 (each warhead can deliver a destructive blast 8 times that of the Hiroshima bomb) – Russia and the USA each have 30 times as many as that. This gives us the capacity for a planetary catastrophe, wiping out all of mankind and poisoning the environment.

The only countries known to have detonated nuclear weapons—and acknowledge possessing them—are the United States (6970), Russia (7300), the UK (215), France, the People’s Republic of China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. Israel is also believed to possess nuclear weapons, though it does not acknowledge having them. Germany, Italy, Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands are nuclear weapons sharing states.

The first resolution adopted by the United Nations in 1946 established a Commission to deal with problems related to the discovery of atomic energy. It also agreed in 1969 a nuclear non-proliferation treaty aimed to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons, but its effectiveness has been questioned, as the nuclear powers have consistently frustrated efforts to eliminate nuclear arsenals, and 4 more countries have acquired nuclear weapons since then. As of 2016, 22,000 nuclear weapons are stored at sites in 14 countries. The UN has now voted overwhelmingly to start negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons in March 2017.

It has been claimed that Scotland would not be admitted as a member of NATO unless it hosted nuclear weapons. This is nonsense, as only 3 out of 28 NATO members have nuclear weapons, and Spain was admitted as a member after forcing the USA to remove its weapons after they dropped 4 on Spain from the air by mistake in 1966. NATO’s policy of a pre-emptive nuclear strike, even when only faced by conventional forces, is dangerous.

SNP policy is to oppose Trident renewal. 80 UK Labour MPs voted against in 2007’s key vote on renewing Trident.

Even before independence, we should pressure Holyrood and Westminster to support the UN ban treaty.

In an independent Scotland, it will be the people of Scotland, and our Scottish Government, who will decide our future policy on nuclear weapons and nuclear power, and what is in the interests of the people of Scotland.

You’ll find us on Yes Edinburgh West website, Facebook and Twitter. There is also a library of useful information on our SNP branch Forum on Trident. The 2014 Referendum White Paper (p.232) and the Wee Blue Book, although dated, give a good idea of policy options.