Scottish independence: Alex Salmond hits back at US critics of independence

Alex Salmond. Picture: Getty
Alex Salmond. Picture: Getty
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ALEX Salmond has claimed Scottish independence is in the national interests of the United States, in a rebuke to American criticism of the SNP’s plans.

In an article in this weekend’s Washington Post, Salmond hits back at the newspaper after it used an editorial last month to warn that independence would “significantly weaken” the UK and create a “mini-state” that would fail to contribute to global security.

Describing the paper’s view as “disappointing”, he claimed that the interests of the US lay in the pursuit of “democracy and self-determination”.

“The national movement in Scotland is peaceful, democratic and civic in its nature – something perhaps, in this troubled world, to be encouraged as in the true interests of both the United States and of Scotland,” he said.

Salmond also used the article to play down fears that the rest of the UK could block Scotland’s application to the EU and prevent a new “sterling zone” being created in which to operate.

But that reassurance was strongly rebutted by Scottish Secretary Michael Moore last night, who travels to the US this week to promote the UK.

A spokesman for the UK government’s Scotland Office said there was no “magic paragraph” in the referendum agreement between the UK and Scottish governments that would “eliminate the risks if Scotland chooses to leave the UK”.

Salmond used the article to strike back at the paper’s stance, which also raised the prospect of the Trident nuclear submarines being removed from the Clyde and the potential for weakening the UK’s right to a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

“Independence will certainly mean an end to the stationing of nuclear weapons in Scotland, that is true,” he said. “But this will merely put Scotland in the same non-nuclear category as 25 of the alliance’s current 28 members.

“The claim that an independent Scotland would be ‘unable to contribute meaningfully to global security’ also is untrue. Would the same be said of European nations such as Norway, smaller than Scotland, or Denmark, almost identical in size? These two countries combined flew more air sorties in the internationally sanctioned action in Libya than did the UK.”

Academics in international relations have said that official US interest in the Scottish independence issue will focus heavily on the question of Trident, amid concerns among other Nato members that removal from Faslane would put the future of the UK’s nuclear submarines in doubt.

A spokesman for the Scotland Office said: “There remains no clarity or certainty about the role Scotland could play in the world if we were to leave the security of the UK family.”

Salmond’s article also prompted criticism from pro-UK politicians last night. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “Alex ­Salmond’s entire case for ­separation is based on assertion, especially when it comes to defence and security matters.

“His position that Scotland could be part of Nato while abolishing nuclear deterrents from the Clyde is another assertion.”