THE UK must consider nuclear disarmament if Scotland becomes independent and removes Royal Navy submarines from the Clyde, according to an international think-tank.
The Washington DC-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is holding a seminar tomorrow entitled “The Scottish Question and the Future of UK Nuclear Forces”.
The think-tank stated: “A referendum on Scottish independence scheduled for autumn 2014 could have profound ramifications for the UK’s nuclear deterrent and for US-UK relations.
“The UK’s entire nuclear force, made up of Trident missiles on Vanguard-class submarines, is operated out of two bases in Scotland.
“In the absence of a suitable option for re-basing the sub- marines in England or Wales, the UK’s Royal Navy must consider a range of alternatives – including disarmament.”
The Carnegie Endowment, the oldest international affairs think-tank in the United States, was founded by Dunfermline-born Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1910, to “hasten the abolition of war”.
Its present board of trustees includes former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan.
Tomorrow’s seminar will feature St Andrews University professor of international relations William Walker, who has co-written a book on “nuclear weapons and the Scottish question”, discussing the independence referendum’s implications for the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent.
He said: “I think that the Americans are only just waking up to what Scottish independence might mean for the future of the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
“They need to know what the future of Trident is in the UK, not just for defence reasons, but also because the two countries are working together on replacing Trident and, obviously, if the UK is no longer part of that it will have implications for the project.”
According to the Scottish Government’s “Your Scotland, Your Voice” consultation paper, an independent Scotland “would become a non-nuclear weapons state”.
It says: “The UK’s nuclear deterrent would not continue to be based in an independent Scotland and a Scottish Government would need to work in partnership with the rest of the United Kingdom to ensure an appropriate transition and relocation.”
Prof Walker insisted that he believed the future of Faslane was not clear should Scots vote for independence and that it might not mean the end of Trident.
He said that he believed there was no realistic alternative in the UK to Faslane and Coulport as a base for the Vanguard submarines, which means that with independence the facility would either be shut, bringing an end to the UK deterrent, or a compromise would be reached with a new Scottish Government.
He said: “It is possible that a new Scottish Government would come to a compromise in the face of severe pressure from Washington and London, but it is hard to predict.”
However this position was last night dismissed by the SNP, which said one of the attractions of independence was that it was the only constitutional outcome that allowed for the removal of Trident from Scotland.