Trident Must Be Destroyed, Not Given to Westminster 275


There appears to be a presumption that upon Scottish Independence, the Trident submarine fleet and its incredibly destructive WMD’s must simply be handed over to Westminster by Holyrood. That is wrong in international law; if the weapons remain on the territory of Scotland, a sovereign state, it will be for the Scottish Government to dispose of them as it chooses.

The principle is well-established and there is a directly relevant and recent precedent in the nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the highly mobile tactical nuclear weapons were swiftly taken back to Russia but the Trident comparators, the strategic nuclear weapons with their silos and the Tupolev strategic bomber fleet and its weapons, were destroyed, many inside Ukraine itself, following the Budapest Agreement of 1994 between the US, UK, Russia and Ukraine and separate bilateral agreements between Ukraine and France, and Ukraine and China.


This photo is of a Ukrainian technician dismantling a SS-19 missile at a US government funded facility at Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. [Russia of course breached the Budapest Agreement when it invaded Crimea, but that does not impact on the legal precedent of Ukraine’s right to dispose of the missiles on its territory].

There is no doubt that in international law, independent Scotland will be under no obligation to hand the Trident system over to Westminster. By taking another route, and seeking the dismantling of the Trident system under international auspices while ratifying the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, START and its protocols and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Scotland will earn great kudos at the United Nations. Making this intent plain at the time of the Declaration of Independence will help secure for Scotland the developing country votes which Scotland will need at the UN General Assembly, recognition by which is the defining test for a country’s Independence.

Scotland has a moral obligation to the world to destroy nuclear weapons on its territory. It is also the case that it should be a simple matter to mobilise international aid funding for the cost of decommissioning and dismantling the Trident nuclear fleet and its missiles – a process in which China, Russia, the USA, France and Westminster should be invited to participate. In fact, the decommissioning work would take years and would bring an economic boost to Scotland, providing far more work than the simple maintenance and operation of the nuclear fleet ever has.

The United Kingdom is a rogue state. It invaded Iraq in a blatantly illegal war of aggression, killing and maiming hundreds of thousands, displacing millions and setting the economic development of the country back 50 years. It significantly contributed to the similar destruction of Libya. It has brazenly defied the United Nations General Assembly and the International Court of Justice in refusing to decolonise the Chagos Islands. It is passing legislation to grant its soldiers immunity from war crimes charges and its secret service officers and agents immunity for murder and torture. To hand Trident missiles, and the capacity to unleash the destruction of the human race, over to the control of this erratic, declining imperial construct would be grossly irresponsible.

An Independent Scotland must not allow WMD to be operational from its territory for one single minute after Independence. We cannot prevent the UK from moving the Trident system out of Scotland before Independence is finalised – in which case we will at least achieve the system being non-operational for about ten years while a new base is constructed, which will itself be a worthwhile achievement.

We in the SNP have to stop pretending to be anti-Trident while expecting to be complicit in a transition plan to let Westminster keep operating Trident. That is an immoral stance and a grossly hypocritical stance.

You don’t negotiate over WMD. You destroy them.

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275 thoughts on “Trident Must Be Destroyed, Not Given to Westminster

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  • Blissex

    «Russia of course breached the Budapest Agreement when it invaded Crimea,»

    There was no breach as it was a “memorandum of understanding”, not a treaty, and there never was an invasion of Crimea, just a declaration of independence by the Crimean autonomous republic under the UN Charter (and the Kosovo precedent), just as Scotland might do soon. Then Crimea applied to join the Russian Federation as a member state, as an independent Scotland may one day apply to join the European Union as a member state. Both actions had support by a large majority of crimean republic citizen, according to opinion polls by western agencies.

    It is really difficult for me to understand why our blogger is parroting the UK government propaganda on the independence of Crimea from the Ukraine when that case is extremely similar to the (future) secessions of Scotland or Catalunya.

    • Tatyana

      Perhaps, when independent Scotland applies for EU membership, Britain objects as stubbornly, as Mr.Murray does now. Britain might appeal to many treaties and memorandums in that case, and I’m interested to watch what would Mr. Murray prefer then – keeping to the treaties or breaking from the government he dislikes.

      • Cubby

        Tatyana

        Point of information – if Scotland is independent there is no Britain as a country or Kingdom. There would of course be the geographical island of Great Britain consisting of the Kingdoms of Scotland and the Kingdoms of England.

        • Giyane

          Cubby

          Maybe more like the Homeless King dom of England and the monarch less republic of Scotland.. scuse me while I pull up my tights.

        • Rhys Jaggar

          ON a point of order, will you be calling for the abolition of the Union of the Crowns i.e. do you still want Queenie or Charlie Boy to trot around the world touting the tartan empire, or not?

        • Blissex

          «if Scotland is independent there is no Britain as a country or Kingdom. There would of course be the geographical island of Great Britain consisting of the Kingdoms of Scotland and the Kingdoms of England.»

          Ahem, there would be the United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The UK has 4 nations, not 3. The current style of HM is “of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” and historically Ireland was in personal union for a while:

          https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Style_of_the_British_sovereign

          «The kingdoms of England and Scotland were formally united into a single Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 by the Act of Union. Queen Anne consequently assumed the style “Queen of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc.”. It remained in use until 1801, when Great Britain and Ireland combined to become the United Kingdom. George III used the opportunity to drop both the reference to France and “etc.” from the style.»

          My guess is that the UK has three “Crowns”: England, Scotland and northern Ireland (Wales is a principality of England).

          BTW I think that technically HM is also technically King (not Queen) of Man (and used to be also “and of the Isles”), even if she is addressed as “Lord of Man” instead.

    • bevin

      “..that case is extremely similar to the (future) secessions of Scotland or Catalunya.”

      Which is putting it very generously given that Crimea was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR as recently as 1954, whereas Catalunya has been part of ‘Spain’ since the unification of the crowns of Aragon and Castile, and Scotland part of the UK since 1707.

      • Cubby

        Bevin

        partner in the UK not part of – Scotland is a partner in a bipartite union with England.

        Catalonia is part of Spain.

        Therefore not at all like Catalonia.

    • Giyane

      Blissex

      A superb example of British Divide and Rule propaganda is when they work the mine shaft of Shi’a / Sunni division, telling the Pakistani + India Muslims that all the Syrians + Kurds are Shi’a and getting their deeply ignorant religious leaders to rant and rave to them that the war against Syria is a holy jihad.

      With Faslane up its knickers leg our government has an Encyclopdia Britannica of useful Divide and Rule lies to hand to foment war in foreign lands.

    • Mr V

      I still find fascinating Craig opposes Crimea so strongly when in every referendum since 1989, 80-90% majority voted for independence from Ukraine or failing that, rejoining Russia instead. This is vastly greater number than Scotland ever managed, and if 55% is a ‘indisputable’ mandate for majority, what is 90%? Would Craig oppose Scottish independence if someone helped Scotland to separate itself from UK, and claimed such independence is illegal and Scotland must be returned into English control immediately? You can’t have it both ways.

  • Johny Conspiranoid

    When you give trident to Westminster you give them the trouble and expense of destroying it when the time comes. Or you can keep that for yourself.

    • Rudz

      What trouble? What expense? Dragging a few subs to the local scrap dealer? Chucking a few nukes on a bonfire?

      • Kempe

        These are nuclear submarines and there are costs involved in disposing of the radioactive parts. Dealing with the seven already redundant subs at Rosyth and the 13 stored at Devonport is estimated at £7.5 billion over 120 years which shows the long term nature of the problem.

        Oh hang on those rusting nuclear hulks at Rosyth will belong to Scotland post independence.

    • Giyane

      Johnny Conspiranoid

      It doesn’t work like that I’m afraid. Government dogma states that unwanted assets must be sold. This brings massive bungs to those in government and to private contractors. The fact that the assets belong to the people is ignored.

      Furthermore, the magic money tree exists. If the Tory government needs to borrow, all it has to do is promote security contracts like kicking Yemen into oblivion for the Saudis. Millions starve in Yemen but bingay millions get furlough.

      The appalling truth is that this recidivism venal group of unscrupulous moneygrabbers would sell nukes to Saudi Arabia under licence from Israel. Morality no longer exists in Tory dogma, that is for sad little bung takers like Starmer .

      Don’t forget, when Saudi Arabia gets nukes, they are as completely useless to their defence as they are to ours.
      So the Yemen and Syria security contracts don’t go away.
      Tories sell what we pay for and do what we voted against. But algorithms, you never realised how much money can be made from algorithms, did you, my boy?

      • Jim J

        Why would Sturgeon destroy such a valuable asset? Surely she would use the money to “build more schools and hospitals”?

  • Michael

    Bloody hell Clive, double down on being a target for the British state why don’t you? I admire your commitment to nuclear disarmament, but personally I think it’s a pipe dream. Then again I think a socialist world is possible so who am I to judge?

  • Ilya G Poimandres

    East Timor principle – it’s been almost as long, and Crimea is now culturally Russian. Worst case scenario – decolonisation, to what? The people voted. Do you need them to vote again to confirm your opinion? They will still vote to be with Russia. So, do you abide by international law, or are you dipping your hat into that ‘rules based order’?!

    • Blissex

      «East Timor principle»

      Excellent point: not just the Kosovo precedent, the “Timor Leste” one too, and then there is now the South Sudan precedent too. The particular relevance of the Kosovo precedent is that it was even enforced by a NATO war of aggression and an invasion against Yugoslavia (and there was no war of aggression of invasion by Russia against the Ukraine: how many times was Kiev bombed by the Russian Federation air force?) , a central/east european country too.

  • Boindub

    Do not waste time on the Tridents. All four will be moved to Norfolk ,Virginia for ‘maintenance’ / ‘upgrading’ long before they are at risk.
    International law. and UK, USA cannot be put logically in one sentence. National Law takes precedence as the punch line in that joke.

  • Carl

    The rUK would do whatever it took to get hold of some new nukes, including further slashing support for the most vulnerable people in society. (In fact that would be the first and most uniformly popular proposal.) UK politicians and media have no more cherished delusion than the idea of Britain as a 1st rate power. It would kill them to no longer be able to menace and threaten countries outside the international community.

    • Blissex

      «UK politicians and media have no more cherished delusion than the idea of Britain as a 1st rate power.»

      UK politicians have no such delusion, they know perfectly well the score, whatever PR they delude gullible voters with, three examples:

      W Churchill, 1944: “When I was at Teheran [in 1943] I realized for the first time what a very small country this is. On the one hand the big Russian bear with its paws outstretched — on the other the great American elephant — and between them the poor little British Donkey”

      T Benn, 1965: “Defence, colour television, Concorde, rocket development – these are all issues raising economic considerations that reveal this country’s basic inability to stay in the big league. We just can’t afford it.
      The real choice is — do we go in with Europe or do we become an American satellite? Without a conscious decision being taken the latter course is being followed everywhere.”

      Tony Blair to GW Bush: “I will be with you, whatever.”

  • Clark

    I am surprised and disappointed by the large number of comments I have read that say, in effect, “the USA is so powerful; we must give the nukes to Westminster to prevent the USA making a military strike upon Scotland”, or “we must lease the nuclear sites to Westminster to prevent antagonising the nearest neighbouring state once independent – and Scotland could make some money that way too!”

    Such timid, money-grubbing attitudes will not achieve true independence in the first place.

    Bullies must be stood up to or they will prosper. You have a chance to disarm your neighbouring bully of his big stick; for heavens’ sake seize the opportunity, or you’ll live forever on your knees.

  • Antonym

    An unUK without nukes would loose its UN SC seat even faster, so: “London pull your Tridents out of Scotland!” Funny way to scare London into doing what most Scots probably want. Can be done in hours. The Russians won’t be coming and the Chinese are out of range: Pitcairn islands?

    The present SNP leadership should #MeToo this as nuclear missiles are definitely not gender neutral…

    • Antonym

      On second thought the Cayman or Virgin islands are better “high value” targets / bases for Trident subs.

    • Kempe

      The UK was a permanent member of the UN Security Council before it was a nuclear power as were all the other members apart from the US. No reason why any of them shouldn’t remain after they’ve given up their nuclear weapons. The five permanent members are the ‘victor’ nations of WW2, possibly in the 21st century this needs a re-think.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Russia has never attacked the UK.
      Russia has fought to repulse foreign invaders – Battle Leipzig 1813 with huge losses; and in two World Wars………..yet Prince Charles trots off to Germany today to talk of “ending Nazi Occupation of Germany”. which is a mind-boggling historical concept.

      Yet when does he go to Russia ? May 9th ?

      How did Germany become Britain’s “ally” and Russia Britain’s “enemy”………..when the Germans rose up to liberate Concentration Camps ?

  • Blissex

    Overall such discussions look to me so wistful, selling the skin of the bear well before having killed it. Why not add that on independence Scotland will also get rid of Newton’s laws of gravity (english laws that have been imposed on Scotland without consent)? 🙂

    • Tatyana

      I’m staring at you with suspicion, Blissex. What do you mean by killing a bear and selling its skin? Hm? You don’t mean bear=Russia, do you?

  • Mr Peacock

    It may be SCO would have a right to do what it likes with the weapons, but only a fool would think it wouldn’t hive them to England.

  • Paul Greenwood

    Funny I thought the Trident missiles were LEASED from the USA and drawn from USN stockpiles at King’s Bay, GA.

    I thought Ukraine was left with no option in 1991 once the Coup against Gorbachev had failed and Yeltsin pushed The Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian SFSR removing Russian Federation from USSR. I suppose if UK were to be dissolved by England things might be interesting, but the successor State to the USSR is the Russian Federation de jure.

    I doubt any Scottish politician will live to interfere with nuclear submarines or US military assets and I doubt they intend to suffer the fate of Ukraine and be riven but I doubt Highlands and Islands will be ready to go with Edinburgh or Glasgow.

    http://via.library.depaul.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.co.uk/&httpsredir=1&article=1144&context=etd

  • Dick+Gagel

    To begin with, the Russian Federation had under an agreement with Ukraine to station troops in the Crimea, which at the time of the plebiscite, numbered around 16,000.

    I am astounded by your f!ater, Craig!

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