Under the plan the Scottish Greens are committing to updating the Marine Scotland Act, which regulates activities in Scottish waters, and in such a way to make it impossible for the Royal Navy to operate Trident from Faslane.
The Greens, which share opposition to nuclear weapons with the SNP, have unveiled the policy just weeks after a highly controversial announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to increase the UK’s stockpile of nuclear weapons as part of a major shift in defence policy. Labour supports the renewal of Trident.
Unveiling the Scottish Green’s manifesto commitment, marine environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell told The Sunday National: “The Tories’ nuclear posturing is reckless in the extreme and Labour’s ongoing support for Trident is a disgrace. The people of Scotland shouldn’t have to play their dangerous game.
“Trident is deeply unpopular here because people recognise that nuclear weapons are not only a colossal waste of money, they’re also a morally abhorrent relic of a bygone era and a major threat to our safety.”
He added: “Scotland’s Parliament has every right to protect our marine environment, which is why the Scottish Greens’ manifesto commits to using devolved powers to ban the transport of nuclear weapons in our waters.
“We are quite sure that any such change would be challenged in the courts by the warmongers at Westminster, a challenge we would welcome. No stone can be left unturned in the campaign to rid Scotland and the world of these weapons of mass slaughter.”
An extract on the policy which is included in the external affairs section of the Scottish Greens’ manifesto reads: “Be a force for peace. The Scottish Greens believe in a world free of nuclear weapons. We will:
- Continue to oppose the housing of nuclear submarines and weapons in Faslane.
- Amend the Marine Scotland Act to ban the movement of nuclear weapons through Scottish waters.”
The Conservative Government announced in mid March it would be increasing the number of its nuclear warhead stockpile to up to 260 after previously saying it aimed to reduce their number to not more than 180 by the mid-2020s.
Ministers also said they will no longer provide figures on how many of the warheads are operational.
CURRENTLY, the UK has a stockpile of 190 warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
The move was widely condemned as a waste of money at a time when huge pressures are on the economy and health service because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Some defence analysts also feared it could lead to other country’s increasing the stockpiles.
Nick Witney, former chief executive of the European Defence Agency, said: “It provides greater arguments for proliferators around the world.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) welcomed the move by the Greens.
“Scottish CND’s formal position has long been in support of Scottish independence, as a means to a very important end. We see it as the quickest route to getting the UK’s nuclear weapons out of Scotland; enabling Scotland to accede to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to benefit from the strong support of the international community in pursuit of nuclear disarmament,” he said.
“However, this is an imaginative and courageous use of devolved powers, which we welcome wholeheartedly, and we would love to see similar commitments from parties who support Scotland remaining within the UK. We have no doubt that it would indeed meet with fierce resistance, but we firmly believe that every possible attempt to outlaw nuclear weapons, and prevent the worldwide humanitarian crisis that could be caused by even a fraction of the UK’s nuclear stockpile, should be explored and pursued; up to and including a commitment from the Scottish Government to accede to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the earliest opportunity.”
An MOD spokesperson said: “The UK is committed to maintaining its credible and independent nuclear deterrent, which exists to deter the most extreme threats to the UK and our NATO allies.
“Our stockpile number is a maximum if required, not a target nor our current number, and is kept under review. The UK is also committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons through gradual multilateral disarmament within the framework of the Treaty on
the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons 1968.”