THE removal of Trident nuclear weapons from an independent Scotland will “not be an easy issue to resolve”, the Finance Secretary has said.
But John Swinney insisted he and his SNP colleagues are “deeply committed” to getting the weapons out of Scotland in the event of a Yes vote in next year’s referendum.
The Scottish Government’s White Paper on independence pledges that if the Nationalists are in power in an independent Scotland, they would “make early agreement on the speediest safe removal of nuclear weapons a priority”.
The paper states “this would be with a view to the removal of Trident within the first term of the Scottish Parliament following independence”.
‘Major issues around defence’
Mr Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland there could be “major issues around some of the defence questions, on the removal of nuclear weapons from Scottish waters”.
The SNP is “deeply committed” to removing Trident and is “absolutely determined” that this will happen if Scotland leaves the UK, he told the Good Morning Scotland programme.
To remove the weapons, talks would have to take place with the UK Government.
“That will not be an easy issue to resolve but we have to put all our efforts into it as a country.
“We’ve set out that time-scale to give real impetus to the process of resolving this issue. It’s a statement of the intent of the Scottish Government. We want to resolve this issue in the first term of an independent Scottish Parliament.
“Weapons of mass destruction have no place in an independent Scotland. We have to resolve that issue by negotiation with the United Kingdom in as quick a time-scale as we possible can do.”
There would be borrowing in the finances of an independent Scotland, though the country would have “financial strength”, Mr Swinney told the programme.
“There would be an element of borrowing. Of course, there has to be borrowing within the public finances. We’re in a situation where the situation where the UK Government has made such a mess of our public finances that we will have to work our way out of these difficulties.
“So borrowing will be part of the equation but what we have to acknowledge, and what people in Scotland have to see, is that we have a stronger financial position here in Scotland and the opportunity of independence is to put that relative financial strength to the advantage of the people of Scotland to create a more sustainable and effective economy with better opportunities for our people.
“That for me is the great prize that’s on offer to the people of Scotland next September. It’s to be able to use the wealth of our country to create the maximum economic opportunities for our people.”
WHITE PAPER ON INDEPENDENCE