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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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  • by Maquis196 (535256) on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:50AM (#47727333)

    I believe Alex has mentioned before that "when" Scotland breaks free, they'll try and use their current position of being British to just seamlessly slot into NATO and the EU. I wonder if theyre allowed to stay Nuclear free zone whilst being in NATO.

    More likely, the threat to remove the Nuclear weapons is a way of renting out the bases from the new English Commonwealth (or whatever us English will end up calling ourselves, most tend to coin the nUK moniker) goverment. Its a great distraction amongst the fact they'll not get a monetary union, Spain will veto their EU plans (over their own want-to-breakaway regions doing the same thing in the future).

    I for one would be interested to see how an independent Scotland fares I wish them all the best, but more then anything, it will mean England finally gets their own parliament as well, kinda stupid that Scotland has power over England but not vice versa. Devo Max (if they vote No) would just make us even more jealous/angry over the whole situation. Maybe the marriage has run it course since our integration. Shame the Tories will be our government forever whilst we lose all the Labour voters north of Hadrians wall...

    This was long then expected!

  • No it will not. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .ecirpdrahcir.> on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:52AM (#47727343)

    The Government have already looked into moving it and all the jobs related to it from Faslane to Portsmouth or Plymouth - sure, it will cost a few billion to move, but that's peanuts compared to how much Scottish independence will ultimately cost to enact. While the new base is being built and readied for use, the submarines will be homed at a US port already familiar with Trident.

    The real question is what are Scotland going to do about their currency post-independence? Parroting the same old lines about a currency union is getting old, especially as all major UK parties have said it will not happen - sure, Scotland could continue to use the Pound long term without permission from the UK, but they want a say in monetary policy, interest rates and a seat at the table on the Bank of England monetary committee, which is what has been turned down by the UK parties.

    And yet Salmond and his crew keep saying it will happen (their favourite line is quoting an unnamed "senior civil servant" as saying "of course it will happen" - an unnamed source saying it will versus the heads of all major UK parties saying it won't...) and refuse to outline any other plan.

  • Hope So (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JRiddell (216337) on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:56AM (#47727363) Homepage

    I hope it does mean the end of the weapons of mass destruction we have north of Glasgow, removing Trident is one of the major reasons for voting yes to independence next month. It's a shame this is the only issue that has caused it to be brought up on Slashdot.

    In reality the submarines can be housed in England but politically many people in England don't want nuclear bombs next to one of their major cities. That London based politicians think it's fine to put them next to one of Scotland's major cities shows why we need this referendum.

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

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:29AM (#47727503) Journal

    The whole currency exchange actually increased the share of the "Yes" vote. The whole patronising attitude of the Westminster parties had the opposite to intended effect.

  • Re:No. It would not. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Archtech (159117) on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:08AM (#47727685)

    Most likely Newcastle-on-Tyne or Barrow-on-Furness. The main reason for siting the base in Scotland was presumably to get it as far away from London as possible.

    Futile, though. Either the Russians decide to take out Britain, or not. (They might as well, since they have plenty of missiles). Half a dozen big warheads should render the entire country uninhabitable - why would they take out the Holy Loch and not finish the job?

    Given the US administration's evident enthusiasm for starting WW3, the UK would be well advised to throw away - not drop - its nuclear weapons as quickly as possible. In a war they would make not the slightest difference to either side, but they would probably get us all fried.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:10AM (#47727699)

    > Salmond seems to think the referendum is bout electing him Scotland's president.

    It's not just him, it's Labour too: this survey [labour.org.uk] asks if participants will be voting for Salmond on September 18th. Personally, I'm not because I'll be too busy voting Yes in a referendum that only offers "Yes" or "No" as the options. Never voted SNP, never voted for Salmond, never plan to. Mind you, I do intend to ignore the thinly-veiled propaganda trying to make this about the current First Minister - from whatever side it comes.

  • by peragrin (659227) on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:14AM (#47727721)

    Funny I have been reading both sides from the BBC for the last year.

    The trick is Salmond isn't saying much. he has no plan B if various parts of his plans fail. He just isn't saying things like we would still use the sterling if the UK didn't want a currency union. He can't imagine a scenario where a currency union wouldn't be agreed to. or a scenario where Scotland wouldn't immediately become a part of NATO or the European Union. He thinks that every thing will stay exactly the same yet Scotland would be independent. That just isn't possible or realistic. Some one is going to tell him we aren't bending rules just for you after the Yes vote and Scotland will get screwed.

    Salmond Thinks he can bypass all the EU rules regarding joining the union without having the currency just because Scotland was a part of the UK. All the EU has to do is tell him no on just that one point. And his whole plan will fall apart.

  • by rapiddescent (572442) on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:56AM (#47727925)

    It's hardly fucking insightful to watch a state broadcaster, owned and run by the same state that has a vested interest interested in one outcome of the referendum.

    It's a ruse by Salmond. He is goading the UK into saying "no" to a shared currency so that Scotland can't, by law, pick up a share of the national debt. George Osboune (the chancellor of the exchequer) is so lame that he walked right into it. Salmond will just use Sterlingisation, suffer short term interest rate rise and then sit on a hugely asset (rather than liability) backed economy. My personal view is that Scotland should share the currency and pay off it's part of the national debt. BoE will have to write a cheque for 4bn of Sco issued notes and many 100's of bn for quantative easing to "buy out" Scotlands share of the UK GBP.

    Have you read Scotland's Future [scotreferendum.com] or the Wee Blue Book [wingsoverscotland.com]. Both are free and cover the currency question.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday August 22, 2014 @07:09AM (#47727995) Homepage Journal

    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

    It's really quite simple. They get all the benefits of having the nukes (MAD) without any of the drawbacks (paying for them) just by having them next door. So yes, they really want them out. There are no drawbacks.

  • Re:No. It would not. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater&gmail,com> on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:46AM (#47729975) Homepage

    No, it's mostly where it is because they wanted to put it somewhere where it's easy to get it out into the deep water of the Atlantic - you can rapidly disperse them to places where they'll be almost impossible to find from the North Western side of the country. Putting it on the East coast like Newcastle isn't ideal because it's much easier for a country like Russia to get it's forces there to start searching, and there's less room for a sub to run.

    Not quite. It's mostly because they wanted them in a location where they could reach their operating areas as quickly as possible - and back in the Polaris days when the base was initially sited, those opareas were to the north of England due to the missile's short range. (That the SSBN base itself would also be a target in a counterforce scenario was also a consideration, but it wasn't the only one.) Other than that, Faslane/Coulport sucks as an operating base because you have a long (6-8 hour) surface transit to the dive point and a fairly limited set of narrow exit points... perfectly sited for a hostile gatekeeper to lie in wait. (But, at the time, it was the best of several competing alternatives, and easy access to the US base at Holy Loch also played a role.)
     
    Which is why Portsmouth is under discussion as an alternative - today, because of the range of Trident-II, the opareas lie to the west and southwest of England.
     

    If you look at a depth map of the world's seas then you'll see that the current location gives some of the quickest access to very deep waters that our coasts offer.

    The water doesn't need to particularly deep. I suspect that the Vanguard's can only dive to 1,000 feet or so, and you don't need nearly so much to dive and operate safely and patrol depths will also be shallower. (Patrol depths are limited by the ability of the launcher system to get the bird to the surface, typically in the range of a couple of hundred feet.) What SSBN's typically want is room more than depth, as they rely mostly on stealth and evasion for security. Depth isn't very much use against modern weapons, which can easily dive far deeper than the SSBN can.
     
    But the UK's real problem when it comes to siting a new SSBN operating base is none of these - for safety reasons it's room to site the missile magazines away from both the docks and civilian population. (Which is why the missiles are stored and handled at Coulport and the SSBN's are based and refitted at Faslane.) Once Scotland is taken out of the mix, the UK has a real shortage of deep draft ports that are also isolated enough to provide a safety and security buffer around the missile magazines and (to a lesser extent) around the docks and refit areas.
     
    Disclaimer: Former US SSBN crewman, long time student of SSBN operations.

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