Written by Kate Hudson
All anti-nuclear campaigners have been heartened by the SNP’s vigorous and principled opposition to nuclear weapons and commitment to a nuclear weapon free world. Indeed, the SNP has provoked a storm of debate and controversy in recent weeks by their insistence that if independent, under their leadership, Scotland would evict Trident altogether. That was great news indeed, notwithstanding inevitable suggestions from nay-sayers that it was practically impossible.
Subsequently however, there have been media reports which suggest that the SNP National Council meeting in June will discuss amending the party’s opposition to Scottish membership of NATO. Of course this may be just a rumour, but if adopted, such an amendment would be a retrograde step and so in the spirit of constructive debate I sent a letter along the following lines to SNP parliamentarians:
‘At CND we regret such speculation and hope the party will demonstrate it is just that, and reaffirm SNP opposition to both Trident and NATO. From the maintenance of its commitment to nuclear weapons, to its post-Cold War expansion and its out-of-area military operations such as Afghanistan – NATO has developed in a dangerous and deplorable direction and it has been inspiring to see the SNP taking a principled stand in questioning the role of NATO today.
My particular concern is that a weakening, or reversing, of the party’s existing position on NATO will necessitate a change of position on Trident and nuclear weapons possession. As you will be well aware, NATO’s Strategic Concept states that ‘as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance’, and the UK’s Trident system is assigned to NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group.
As others both for and against Trident have argued, there would be a fundamental inconsistency in accepting the role of nuclear weapons in NATO’s security, but demanding their removal from Scottish territory. It is worth considering the situation that other non-nuclear weapon states in NATO find themselves.
Ahead of the NATO Strategic Summit in 2009, the German government decided it no longer wished to host nuclear weapons on its soil and decided to push for the removal of NATO-assigned US tactical nuclear weapons from German territory. But it was unable to secure their removal as agreement was not forthcoming from all NATO states. Similarly, the Belgian and Dutch governments have sought the removal of NATO-assigned US tactical nuclear weapons from their territory – with no success.
These examples strengthen the case for those who question how an independent Scotland could join NATO and simultaneously expel Trident from the Clyde naval base, given the inconvenience it would cause a fellow NATO government at Westminster.’
I very much hope that these factors will be taken into account if the SNP consider amending their current policy.