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Scottish independence to spark nuke debate

Press TV – September 4, 2014

A yes vote in the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence is expected to pose challenges over the future of the UK’s strategic nuclear Trident program.

Keeping the nuclear base in Scotland for a least a number of years would be part of the independence negotiations, says Professor Malcolm Chalmers, a research director at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) and co-author of a recent report on relocating the Trident base.

According to the report, cited Thursday in The Guardian newspaper, while any relocation could not be completed by the 2020 target date currently proposed by the Scottish government, it could be put off – under a specific UK-Scotland basing agreement – perhaps until 2028, the date a new fleet of Trident submarines is due to start entering service.

The relocation would add up to £3.5bn to the cost of retaining Britain’s nuclear forces, a program estimated to cost £80bn over 25 years.

Yet, as the Rusi report concedes, negotiations following a yes vote in the Scottish referendum this month would trigger a wider debate in the rest of the UK about whether or not the strategic benefits of retaining nuclear weapons exceed the costs involved.

Chalmers adds that the debate over British nuclear weapons has always been politically driven and the military is divided over the issue.

The US, in particular, which wants its major British NATO ally to retain nuclear weapons, has made it clear that it would not welcome such a debate.

However, Colin Fleming, a Scottish defense and security academic, put it this way in a recent edition of the Chatham House think tank Journal of International Affairs : “There is no reason why Scotland would not provide a modern, flexible, defence force capable of securing Scottish territory and playing its part in the broader security of the British Isles as a whole.”

September 4, 2014 - Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , ,

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