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 He is expressing a view that is both simplistic and outdated.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.