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Scotland/Faslane | Acronym Institute

Scotland/Faslane

Scotland plays an essential role that may determine whether or not the UK continues as a nuclear-armed state.  The current Trident nuclear weapons system comprises four nuclear powered Vanguard-class submarines, which are homeported at the Faslane naval base northwest of Glasgow. These are equipped with Trident II D5 missiles leased from the US, fitted with warheads that are manufactured at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston and Burghfield, near London.  The majori...

Scotland plays an essential role that may determine whether or not the UK continues as a nuclear-armed state.  The current Trident nuclear weapons system comprises four nuclear powered Vanguard-class submarines, which are homeported at the Faslane naval base northwest of Glasgow. These are equipped with Trident II D5 missiles leased from the US, fitted with warheads that are manufactured at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston and Burghfield, near London.  The majority of the UK’s declared 225 warheads – those that are not being deployed on board the submarines or refurbished by AWE – are stored at a naval arms depot at Coulport, on the Scottish coast about 6 miles from Faslane.  Trident nuclear weapons are regularly transported through Scottish lochs and seas and between Faslane and Coulport.  Convoys of armoured vehicles carrying warheads frequently travel on public roads, including motorways, between AWE Burghfield and Coulport. These are often ‘spotted’, followed and protested against en route, with information passing between CND groups and other nonviolent citizens, including ‘Nukewatch’, the Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp(aign) and the Faslane Peace Camp.

In 2007 following the UK parliament’s decision to procure new submarines to carry the Trident nuclear weapon system until the 2050s, a high profile, yearlong peaceful blockade of the Faslane naval base by the Faslane 365 civil society network contributed to the election of a Scottish government opposed to Trident renewal and committed to making Scotland nuclear free. Voting in the Scottish Parliament and successive opinion polls have confirmed Scots’ overwhelming opposition to nuclear weapons in general and, in particular, to UK nuclear weapons continuing to be deployed and stored in Scotland.  From 2007-09, the Scottish Government convened a working group to consider issues relating to ‘Scotland without nuclear weapons’, with Acronym Institute director Dr Rebecca Johnson serving as one of its members.

The Working Group’s remit was severely limited, however, in order to comply with the terms of the 1998 Scotland Act, which decreed that the Scottish government would not have jurisdiction over decisions relating to defence and foreign policy, which are ‘reserved’ to the UK Parliament in London. When the Scottish National Party (SNP) was re-elected to government with an increased majority in 2011, British decision-makers began to take seriously the possibility that Scotland could gain greater autonomy.  The referendum on Scottish independence - a key SNP manifesto pledge - has since been set for 18 September 2014 and the demand for removal of all nuclear weapons from Scottish territory has widespread support amongst 'Yes' campaigners.  Many column inches have been devoted to debating whether or not the government of an independent Scotland would carry through with its pledge to remove Trident, particularly given the myriad of other issues to be negotiated and in light of a controversial October 2012 vote by SNP members to remain part of the NATO nuclear alliance in the event of independence.  However, the SNP has so far remained steadfast in its commitment to removing Trident from Scotland and commentators are unanimous that it would be extremely difficult (practically and politically) for a UK government to establish facilities suitable for storing nuclear weapons and homeporting the Trident fleet in England or Wales.   

In 2009, the Acronym Institute, together with Trident Ploughshares and Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre, convened a conference on the subject of ‘Trident & International Law: Scotland’s Obligations’.  The conference brought together several eminent experts on international law and nuclear weapons policy and in 2011 their presentations were published by Luath Press in a book of the same name.  Copies of the book can be obtained from Luath Press or via Amazon.

1 November 2015

Scottish Labour party delegates have backed a vote to scrap the UK's Trident nuclear missile system, which is based at Faslane naval base on the Clyde.

A motion at the party's conference in Perth calling for the system not to be renewed was supported by an overwhelming majority....

22 October 2015

Trident is far more a political than a military entity – it does not even command uniform support across the military.

The change in leadership of the Labour Party has brought the issue of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system back into the spotlight. Depressingly, however...

18 October 2015

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has appealed for Labour MPs to support the renewal of the UK’s Clyde-based Trident nuclear weapons system. Mr Fallon urged the party’s “moderates” to ignore the views of leader Jeremy Corbyn and put...

22 April 2013

The Spring 2013 edition of Proliferation in Parliament offers a review of news, debates and developments in the UK Parliament and Government on issues relating to nuclear weapons, disarmament and proliferation.  It is published in mid-April 2013 as parliamentarians return...

15 January 2013

The Winter 2012-2013 edition of Proliferation in Parliament offers a review of news, debates and developments in the UK Parliament and Government on issues relating to nuclear weapons, disarmament and proliferation.  It is published in January 2013 following the Christmas...

11 September 2012

This is the Summer 2012 edition of the Acronym Institute newsletter Proliferation in Parliament.  It offers a review of news, debates and developments in the UK Parliament and Government on issues relating to nuclear weapons,...

Dr Rebecca Johnson
16 July 2013

The government's Trident Alternatives Review" (TAR), an edited version of which was made public Tuesday 16 July failed to resolve the fundamental differences between the Conservative and Lib...

9 June 2015

Parliamentary update: Nuclear Weapons Policy Liaison Group, 9th June 2015.

 
Read about the latest political activity around nuclear weapons in the UK.
This parliamentary update is also attached as a...
28 January 2015

Read about the latest political activity around nuclear weapons in the UK, including the Opposition Day Debate about Trident replacement.

Parliamentary update: Nuclear Weapons Policy Liaison Group, 5th - 26th January 2015

 
This parliamentary update is also...
Dr Rebecca Johnson
17 December 2014

Driven by “the imperative of human security for all", Austria pledged at the...

20 October 2015

20 Oct 2015 : Column 913

6.24 pm

Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP): 

As has been pointed out, this measure is very much part of the overall narrative of this Government. They have enthusiastically embraced...

15 October 2015

Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (SNP): 

The continued retention of weapons of mass destruction for the UK is of grave concern to millions of people, not least in Scotland, where people live in their shadow. This issue is much too important to be...

9 October 2015

Dr Paul Monaghan: To ask the Prime Minister, under which criteria the Government would consider it justified to launch (a) a pre-emptive nuclear attack on another independent state or states using the Trident nuclear weapons system based in Scotland and (b) a retaliatory nuclear...

22 December 2014

The third annual report by the MOD, detailing the progress made on the Successor programme over the last 12 months and plans for the coming year, was published in December 2014. It is available on the www.gov.uk website...

Author(s): Scottish Affairs Select Committee
23 October 2012

Summary

Nuclear weapons in Scotland could be disarmed within days and removed within months.

We accept the analysis of Scottish CND that, with the cooperation of the Royal Navy and the UK Government, this process would be both speedy and safe.

We recognise that...

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