Scotland and the Nuclear Weapon Red Line

This article was first published in the Scottish Socialist Party’s Newspaper “Voice”

Right now I guess that the diverse collective of those who have an investment in a Scottish status quo has accepted that formal independence is pretty well inevitable, sooner or later. Their focus will now be mainly on ensuring that conditions favourable to their interests remain firmly in place even after the divorce. Why worry about Scotland having its own seat at the UN if it still can be irradiated with brutal capitalism and still contains an entire nexus of military platforms for global power games? The collective will hope to continue to have nod-and-wink access to Prestwick for dubious military transits, airfields for NATO surveillance ops, deregulated trade arrangements with destructive environmental, health and worker welfare effects, factories engaged in arms manufacture and complicit in war on civilians, vast tracts of land still under the control of a transnational elite, continuing generous scope for corruption and money laundering, and yes, of course, a Green Zone at Faslane/Coulport guaranteeing for undefined decades ahead a very Scottish launch-pad for genocidal weapons.

If you want specific evidence that their hopes are not unrealistic have a look at the Sutherland Space Hub project, which the Scottish government has spinelessly allowed to go ahead. We now learn that it will be open to military use. To give an additional foothold to global arms manufacturers at this critical stage in Scotland’s story is at the least incredibly stupid. These things are much harder to uproot when fully embedded. Now’s the time to rip them out.

The UK’s nuclear weapons have to go as soon as is safely and practically possible. That’s a red line – a key indicator of whether we really want a new start. Bill Kidd MSP and others have done their bit in re-iterating the SNP’s commitment to exactly that. These bombs are deadly, even in their unarmed state and it will require people who know what they are doing to remove them from the missiles on the subs, store them temporarily in Coulport until they are all taken south, a small number at a time, probably using the same convoy system that is currently operates to maintain and refurbish them. This can be done in an orderly way within two years.

We will not be doing this on our own. The ability of an independent Scotland to effect a removal has been enormously strengthened by the arrival of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). By the time we gain independence the TPNW will have entered into force (that could happen in early 2021). We immediately ratify it so as to be legally bound by all its prohibitive articles. The following Treaty Articles are especially pertinent:

Article 1. g) Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances allow any stationing, installation or deployment of any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in its territory or at any place under its jurisdiction or control.

Article 4. para 4. A State Party that has any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in its territory or in any place under its jurisdiction or control that are owned, possessed or controlled by another State shall ensure the prompt removal of such weapons, as soon as possible but not later than a deadline to be determined by the first meeting of States Parties . . .

We then have full legal backing for an eviction order, as well as huge international support. Indeed the Treaty’s Article 7 outlines in some detail what practical form that support may take. Like a genuine response to the climate crisis and the management and mitigation of pandemics the end of nuclear weapons requires a coherent worldwide response. We are accustomed to thinking that the power triangle is wee Scotland against the intransigence of Westminster with the US Godfather in the background. Not on this one. The world will be watching and cheering us on.

What is vital is what we do about this now. With a Holyrood election impending we must do what we can to ensure that candidates and voters fully get the linkage between the end of nukes in Scotland and the TPNW. Scottish CND’s open working group on the Treaty is developing a Candidates Pledge to back the TPNW for the use of local groups, individuals and political parties, and is also preparing material for online meetings and street work. Contact us at for more information and read the Treaty for yourself at

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