2007 - 2020

British Spy Says No to Indy Nukes Shock

In today’s Herald, David Omand, formerly of GCHQ, says that ridding an independent Scotland of nuclear weapons is incompatible with NATO membership. He is expressing a view that is both simplistic and outdated.

Incompatibility with NATO obligations was the given reason in apologising for the sole vote against the Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) by the Netherlands as far back as 2017 when the TPNW was adopted at the UN. But the North Atlantic Treaty itself does not stipulate a nuclear weapons commitment.

Scottish CND is opposed to NATO membership for an independent Scotland and is also in favour of the withdrawal of the UK from the alliance. It would make absolutely no sense for an independent Scotland to join such an aggressive and sectional alliance and align with the US bloc. An independent Scotland could be free of exclusive military alliances and covert military collaborations with other states which would enable it to make its contribution to true security by engaging with inclusive institutions. NATO is not an alliance of equals but is rather a suzerainty compact between a great power and its vassal states and Scottish CND’s analysis of this is common to many others in the wider peace movement and even within the SNP rank and file.

Yet many NATO member states are already more than uneasy at the Alliance’s nuclear First Strike policy and there are others for whom the nuclear issue is a sharp illustration of their subordination. So NATO itself is not a given, fixed for ever, especially as the US’ status as the world power is perceived to be on the wane. Europe, for good or ill, is showing signs of taking responsibility for its own security. Barely noticed in the strange information-deprived enclave that is the UK was the narrowness of the vote in Belgium in January this year against the removal from the country of the “shared” US nuclear weapons. The cracks are growing and the TPNW is helping to drive in the wedges. Last year, Ireland’s Parliament voted unanimously for a bill to incorporate the TPNW into its national legislation, indicating a new norm with complete acceptance of the need for security that reject any form of nuclear sharing. The changing norm arising from the TPNW was further illustrated when Ireland’s Parliament voted the TPNW into its national legislation. The bill gained unanimous support for a view that security cannot include nuclear sharing.

In all of this the priorities for Scotland are clear. The nuclear ban treaty which has now irreversibly achieved the requirements for entry into force in January is the key. The Scottish Government only needs to make a public commitment that it will ratify the TPNW as soon as Scotland can become a UN member state to ensure the specific and unqualified backing of international law, (as well as huge international support) first to have the weapons removed and secondly to be under a legal obligation to refuse to give the UK any kind of lease of the Clyde nuclear weapon bases.

Our FM has already declared her support for the TPNW and that support needs only to be publicly confirmed as it approaches entry into force, in the full knowledge of its implications for our future as a nation committed to peace.

Comments (9)

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  1. Graham Ennis says:

    Lets be totally clear and simple about this. Sweden, Ireland, are neutral. Also finland. Nobody has invaded and overrun them.
    Scotland with nuclear weapons and dragged into nato, would be a prime nuclear target.
    Neutral, and with no nato forces, then it would be like the other neutral states in Europe.
    If this cold war relic of a man does not like that, he can go and live in England, which is full of nuclear targets, American and british, and enjoy being incinerated in a war. Leave us out of it. Neutrality is a simple solution to the Foreign policy of an independent Scotland. As the Swedes have found, a strong military, and neutrality, works very well. Also scotland should not take part in assisting the mass murder and genocide that is a nuclear war.
    Comments please

    1. Carol Mapley says:

      Finland was indeed invaded in 1939 by the then Soviet Union which resulted in the Winter War which it won due to the poor performance of the Soviet army. Ultimately Finland lost that conflict when spring/summer came in 1940 as the USSR deployed a larger number of its forces eventually losing part of its territory to the USSR. Finland tried to take back that territory by allying with Nazi Germany only to eventually seek a separate peace with the USSR. In this peace Finland was limited in the number of and type of armed forces it could have and deploy. The Finnish armed forces reflected this by fielding a force using both NATO and Warsaw Pact equipment, as an instance their airforce used aircraft such as the Mig 21 interceptor and the British Folland Gnat in a strike configuration and BA Hawk trainer.

      I do take on board your comments about Sweden and it’s armed forces and agree with them. I personally would not like to see Scotland become a militarised state with a large defence industry but would be quite happy to see Scotland buy from nations such as Sweden who build ‘niche’ weapon systems which although not mainstream would suit Scotland’s needs. Likewise we should look at other alternative nations for equipment such as Japan and Norway who both have similar defence issues and appropriate weapons.

      In summation I believe we should look to Sweden for inspiration for defence ideas.

      1. Graeme McCormick says:

        Has Sweden not recently decided to retain conscription?

        There is a significant body of opinion in Sweden to align itself ever more closely with Nato.

        I think we want to see some encouraging comments from NATP members in advance of the Referendum that they want and need us before we make any commitment to Nato or neutrality.

    2. Alistair MacKichan says:

      Good comment Graham. My only added note would be that any kind of nuclear conflict with today’s extraordinarily powerful warheads would be catastrophic not just for the target nation, but for the biosphere. For a long time now, we have known the risk of a nuclear winter, when particulates in the global atmosphere reduce incident sunlight to the point where plants die. There is demonstrable evidence for this from quite recent history, when successive years of famine followed significant volcanic eruption, but the nuclear war scenario is potentially many times worse, and the extinction of most life on the planet could occur. Alongside that proven scenario, we have the recent evidence of Chernobyl and the Japanese nuclear core meltdown that horrific genetic effects on the region’s human population occurs. The aftermath of a modern nuclear war, could multiply these power-station catastrophes by factors of thousands or millions. There might not be an unaffected human on the planet, nor a normal foetus born. The massive irresponsibility in unleashing such scenarios wholly validates the ethical imperative behind TPNW, and reveals any state that fails to embrace the Treaty as neoliberal, sociopathic and wholly toxic to all foreign relations. Those states who now fails to sign up to TPNW and decommission should be shamed and ostracised. The charade of “security” in the UN Security Council should be confronted. There is a lot ahead, if we can survive long enough to celebrate the removal of this evil.

  2. SleepingDog says:

    Nuclear weapons belong to a class of weapons that will be outlawed by ecocide legislation, anti-terror legislation, and a pro-democracy constitution. NATO will soon be an illegal organization under international law, and international arrest warrants should be issued for its membership come January.

  3. Bob says:

    There is no profit to be had from nuclear war. There is however significant profit to be made from the threat of nuclear war.

  4. Dougie Harrison says:

    The main reason the spook quoted in the Herald is scared of independence, is a matter of naval geography. Scotland presents many opportunities for naval bases which assist monitoring and control of the Iceland-Norway gap, which gives access from the Atlantic to Russia’s only 12-month ice-free ports in the Murmansk area.

    Nowhere in England has this degree of monitoring and control. When Faslane is ridded of nuclear-armed submarines, the only English port likely to be able to house them (in the event that England alone decides to retain them, which is not a foregone conclusion) is Plymouth/Devonport, or somewhere else in the far southwest. For submarines based there to reach the west coast of Scotland in international waters (ie west of Ireland) involves a voyage of 5-600 miles.

    That’s why the sad remnants of English imperialism want to hang onto Scotland. They have nowhere else to base their silly but dangerous wee boats.

  5. JackB says:

    Independence will put Scotland in a position both politically and security wise of having a “clean sheet” in the wider world . NATO Secretary General has stated that if Scotland becomes independent it would automatically cease to be a member. This would leave use without the baggage of NATO membership ,of allegiances that take use into war, choices of allies and harbouring of members assets ….. nuclear base at Faslane…. eUK rapid response and submarine hunters at RAF Lossiemouth . With neutrality we would not be part of the top table in the UN ,where nuclear weapons attempt to dictate to the other countries of the world who is in charge. The move toward TPNW would help relieve us of the constant threat that the “Top Table” over shadows the world with. It would be a bit like the downfall of Trump, it brings relief in the world… not perfect but a lot safer. I don’t think that demilitarisation will increase threats to us but enable use ,with like minded countries , to work in the world towards peaceful solution to international problems. If we have failures we should equip ourselves ,not to join the fight, but enable us to provide humanitarian aid ,not nukes

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