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United Kingdom The Military

Would Scottish Independence Mean the End of UK's Nuclear Arsenal? 375

Posted by samzenpus
from the there-goes-the-boom dept.
Lasrick writes The referendum on Scottish independence on September 18th affects more than just residents of the United Kingdom. All of the UK's nuclear deterrent is located in Scotland, and Alex Salmond and the Scottish government have pledged to safely remove and permanently ban nuclear weapons from Scottish territory within the first term of a newly independent parliament.
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Would Scottish Independence Mean the End of UK's Nuclear Arsenal?

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  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:44AM (#47727299)

    Nope

  • No. It would not. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:45AM (#47727303)

    They would just move it to England. Or Wales.

    This might be the least intelligent question I've seen on Slashdot.

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:01AM (#47727381)

    The article is a load of bollocks, moving the facilities has indeed been looked into but the MoD just hasn't committed to any plan given that no decision on independence has been made yet. The only thing the MoD have ruled out is keeping Faslane as a Sovereign Base Area similar to those on Cyprus.

    And regarding the last sentence - Scotland does not unilaterally inherit the UK's nuclear deterrent simply because it happened to be on Scottish soil, so they do not have unilateral authority get to dispose of them. The will be passed to the rest of the UK post-independence, who will then make the decision about what to do.

  • Re:Hope So (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:08AM (#47727405)

    You realise the reason Faslane is there is because Scottish MPs wanted the investment and jobs in Scotland?

  • Re:No it will not. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shimbo (100005) on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:27AM (#47727491)

    If Scotland votes Yes in September, without a currency union the UK will lose almost 10% of its GDP overnight

    Whereas Scotland, which will lose 90% of it's GDP overnight will be just peachy, right?

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:31AM (#47727515) Journal
    I don't know what the wacky world of inheriting nukes in state breakups looks like in terms of precedent(given that our only real experience with it is 'making shit up while the Soviet Union crumbled' there may be little more than handwaving); but it wouldn't at all surprise me if both Scotland and the (slightly less)United Kingdom would have a very strong shared incentive to come up with an amicable deal.

    Unless you have the ability(decent strategic air force, missile sub capabilities, or hostile neighbors within easy shooting range) and the desire to wave your nukes around, being a nuclear power is actually kind of a shitty job. Nukes are, well, the nuclear option, so they are of little use except in extreme circumstances; they are expensive and technically demanding to maintain, their PR value is deeply mixed, you have to protect them to avoid proliferation, and they have finite shelf life.

    If Scotland wants to get out of the nuclear game; but the UK wants to hold on to some Global Influence, it would be a very, very, mutually convenient arrangement for Scotland to offer a sweetheart deal(if they have some sort of legal claim, maybe a relatively token payment or concession, otherwise just some handshakes and a photo-op) on the warheads in exchange for the UK packing them up, remediating any especially badly contaminated facilities, and otherwise making them Not Our Problem Anymore.

    The hypothetical Scottish exit would likely be cleaner than that of the former Soviet republics, so they wouldn't be quite as badly situated; but the post-Soviet states that inherited fissile goodies were generally quite happy to accept Russian, American, or any other outside assistance in just getting the stuff off their hands as fast as possible. Having a real nuclear arsenal is expensive and requires commitment. Having a decaying one is just a proliferation clusterfuck waiting to happen.
  • Re:Betteridge (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:34AM (#47727545) Journal

    What threats against Scotland would British nuclear weapons prevent?

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:42AM (#47727579)

    In general, there isn't "another side of the story" because Salmond and Sturgeon are spouting the same disproven bullshit time and again - when they start actually giving decent information, I'm sure the BBC will present their side of the story.

  • Re:Betteridge (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rapiddescent (572442) on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:49AM (#47727611)

    Scotland has only been invaded by, erm, one country, many times as it happens, in the last 1000 years.

  • by citizenr (871508) on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:14AM (#47727719) Homepage

    there's no USSR

    for the moment, but Putin is on top of it

  • by jareth-0205 (525594) on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:29AM (#47727785) Homepage

    The americans have enough already .. there's no USSR .. I wonder why they'd want to maintain an "arsenal" .. wouldnt a few thermo tipped pencils be enough deterrent ?

    Ultimately, yes, because you can't expect another country, even a close ally, to risk nuclear war for you. The UK can't guarantee that the States would retaliate if necessary, especially since they would be bringing likely retaliation, and millions of American citizens deaths, on themselves. Nuclear warheads suck, but once you have them you damn well keep them, otherwise the deterrent doesn't work.

  • Re:No it will not. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jareth-0205 (525594) on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:36AM (#47727821) Homepage

    Thing is, the UK parties hate, hate, hate the thought of secession. So if they think being uncooperative on the pound will help scare Scots to stay in the union, they'll do that.

    But once secession is a fact, that posturing will likely be dropped. UK is probably better served with Scotland staying with the pound than switching to the Euro.

    Why? We've *just*... *just* seen how badly a currency union without political union can go in the (ongoing) Euro crisis. Why do you think that's a good idea suddenly now, especially when the direction of integration is going in the wrong direction, towards more divergence. You can't have successful monetary union without shared fiscal policy, and why would Scotland want that after all the effort of independence?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:42AM (#47727855)

    Nuclear carped bombing might improve gene pool and solve some terror related problems.
    This is fast and relatively "low cost" solution. Comparing to current "War on Terror"
    "You want to play terror game"? here is terror made properly....Nuke them and shoot them while they still glow in the dark!
    After such action Scotland would be nuclear weapons free ... as side benefit.

  • by Xest (935314) on Friday August 22, 2014 @07:29AM (#47728119)

    Right, but you have to remember also that Salmond has been allowed to rig this poll in his favour, precisely so even if the result is that close the Westminster parties can say that he couldn't even win the referendum on his terms.

    It's unheard of in the UK for you to not be able to vote in a referendum because of your residency, rather than your nationality yet Westminster let Salmond have his own way on exactly this such that the 20% of Scots most likely to vote against independence (those not currently resident, but otherwise nationals of because they were born there) cannot vote in the referendum. Similarly he was allowed to continue with a loaded referendum question, and he was allowed to bring in the 16 - 18 bracket who are more naive to and hence swayed by populist nationalist rhetoric.

    Given that Salmond can't even get a 50:50 split when the thing is slanted completely in his favour then I think saying there's no popular support is a fair argument. If all Scots were allowed a say rather than those Salmond has fiddle the figures for it seems the polls would be running closer to about 66:34.

    This is a risky but potentially smart gamble by Westminster in letting Salmond have his own way - it means Salmond cannot come back and say the vote wasn't fair, that it should be re-run, he wont have a leg to stand on because everything was allowed on his terms and yet he'll still most likely lose it seems.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @07:55AM (#47728287)

    Generally, that's what Ukraine thought when it gave up it's nuclear weapons. Working pretty well for them, isn't it?

    Though to be fair, they chose not to join NATO.

  • by Titus Groan (2834723) on Friday August 22, 2014 @08:18AM (#47728461)
    Scotland has been economically raped by the UK for more than just the 30 years or so that north sea oil and gas has been around. Scotland has consistently paid more tax per head of population than the rest of the UK. Then there's the clearances. The proverb you are grasping for with lethologica is "together we stand, divided we fall" how do you think George Washington et al would feel about that statement if you had a time machine and suggested that to them?
  • by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Friday August 22, 2014 @08:52AM (#47728737) Homepage Journal

    We've actually paid more tax per head, and received less back per head, than England for every one of the last 110 years, which is as far back as the available data goes. So it's long before the discovery of oil.

    However, that's not the point. The United Kingdom has, through imperialism and military adventurism, very reasonably made itself the second most hated nation on the planet. I'm tired of being embarrassed to travel on a UK passport. I'm tired of paying taxes to bomb other people's countries. I'm tired of my country providing bases for the US to set up its torture centres. I'm tired of my country supporting every two-bit dictator who will buy weapons.

    We can do better than this - and we will.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @09:10AM (#47728883)

    Israel consistently denies their possession of nukes, so they don't count. On the other hand, Iran consistently denies their possession of nukes, so they must have them.

  • by nukenerd (172703) on Friday August 22, 2014 @11:09AM (#47730213)

    They would just move it to England. Or Wales.

    This might be the least intelligent question I've seen on Slashdot.

    Perhaps you should RTFA; an alternative that is discussed is to move the system to the USA.

    That is a newspaper article trying to wind up the readers. The article us utter crap; for example :-

    The UK Government is not encouraging the Ministry of Defence to acknowledge or publish a backup plan for independence.... It is almost laughable that the government of one of the most powerful nations on Earth is trying to dismiss its opposition by keeping the fate of some of the most powerful weapons on Earth uncertain.

    I must say I don't get what the "almost laughable" joke is supposed to be. I am an ex-naval officer, and the navy, like any military, has all sorts of plans on paper for all sorts of scenarios. They are mostly hypothetical and done as staff excercises. Many would be politically sensitive. Of course there will be outline plans for the loss of Scottish bases, but to publish them right now would be pre-judging the referendum. Independence is not going to occur the day after the referendum, there will be a vast amount of sorting out to do in which closing a naval base will be a drop in the ocean.

    The "fate of some of the most powerful weapons on Earth" is not at all uncertain. "Fate" is a strong word for moving some submarines along the coast - the journo makes it sound as is they might be given to al Qaeda. No doubt they will be moved to somewhere else on the English or Welsh coast. Milford Haven would be ideal, but that might be politically sensitive, being in Wales. Cumberland more likely. It won't be in a city like Portsmouth or Plymouth unless temporarily.

    FTFA :- "Right now, the choice is clear. Britain must stop playing games and acknowledge or publish a backup plan" No need unless and until the referendum votes for independence. I don't see any games there. This is a journo wishing he had something to wroite about already.

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