Scottish independence: We’ll stay in Nato but ban Trident, says Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond: Nuclear weapons should be banned in independent Scotland. Pic: James Williamson
Alex Salmond: Nuclear weapons should be banned in independent Scotland. Pic: James Williamson
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A WRITTEN constitution for an independent Scotland should explicitly ban nuclear weapons from the country, First Minister Alex Salmond said yesterday.

• First Minister says independent Scottish constitution should explicitly rule out hosting nuclear deterrent

• Salmond claims call “reinforces the SNP’s unshakeable opposition” to weapons

• SNP set to debate policy on NATO membership if independence goes ahead

The SNP said such a move would reinforce the party’s “unshakeable opposition” to the Trident nuclear deterrent in Scotland.

The proposal was unveiled as Nationalists prepare to debate plans to abandon their historic opposition to keeping Nato membership after a vote for independence.

Mr Salmond said opposition to nuclear weapons should be enshrined in a written constitution if Scotland votes Yes to independence in 2014.

He said: “The SNP government will be bringing forward a white paper on independence, which proposes a written constitution for an independent Scotland, and that constitution will have to be ratified by the Scottish Parliament elected in 2016.

“The SNP position on this is that the constitution should include an explicit ban on nuclear weapons being based on Scottish territory. This reinforces the SNP’s unshakeable opposition to nuclear weapons, and that is the context in which we will debate Nato at the forthcoming party conference.

“The resolution to be debated at conference does make an independent Scotland’s membership of Nato conditional on the acceptance of Scotland’s non-nuclear status, in line with the vast majority of Nato members.”

Plans by the SNP leadership to keep Scotland in Nato after independence were branded “offensive” by Green leader Patrick Harvie on Sautrday. At his party’s conference in Glasgow, he took a swipe at the policy U-turn, suggesting people who want independence as a way of removing Trident from Scottish waters would be feeling let down.

He said: “The idea that we sign up to a nuclear alliance, the implication of which is to ask other countries to deploy nuclear weapons on our behalf, and then have a debate about whether they should be moved from the Clyde, is a nonsense.

“Nato is an organisation whose design is about the aggressive projection of power around the world. It is an antique, outdated and defunct organisation, in my view, and I think we should have nothing to do with it.”

The SNP will debate the change of tack at its conference later this month.

Members of the No To Nato Scotland Coalition welcomed Mr Salmond’s plans for a written constitution, but called on the SNP leadership to “follow the logic of that principled stance” and reject Nato membership.

Leonna O’Neill of Faslane Peace Camp said: “Setting the constitutional framework for the illegality of Trident is a welcome step, but it does nothing to address the issue of Nato membership. An independent Scotland will gain nothing from Nato membership other than repeated moral concessions and military demands.”

Jane Tallents of Trident Ploughshares said: “Alex Salmond’s welcome proposal makes his stance on Nato ever more strange and puzzling.

“The SNP’s commitment to the removal of Trident is becoming clearer and stronger, but until the leadership abandons the wholly contradictory idea of sheltering under Nato’s nuclear umbrella the suspicion of ‘nimbyism’ will remain.