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Working Group on Scotland Without Nuclear Weapons: Report to Scottish Ministers



The tide of international opinion is moving away from continued reliance on nuclear weapons and towards tangible commitments to non-proliferation and international efforts to build peace and security without nuclear weapons;

The UK Government has, in conformity with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, given a commitment to multilateral disarmament. It is therefore a question of when and not whether nuclear weapons will leave Scotland and HM Naval Base Clyde;

Though welcoming all steps that reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world, the Working Group believes that the UK Government must commit to a more significant and immediate reduction in both the number of nuclear weapons and in the role assigned to them in security and deterrence policies. This should ideally include confirmation that Trident will not be replaced, and steps to begin the process of removing the existing Trident system, as soon as possible;

The Scottish Government has a clear and legitimate interest in the presence of nuclear weapons in Scotland as this has a direct impact on devolved responsibilities;

The Working Group considers that there is a bright future for Scotland without nuclear weapons and proposes a range of options for the Scottish Government relevant to its remit (see Summary of Options);

Economic and social issues

The UK Government has indicated that it proposes to replace the Trident system when it becomes necessary for the present submarines to be withdrawn in the early 2020s . The Working Group on Scotland Without Nuclear Weapons takes the view that the replacement of Trident and the financial, human and security costs and risks of retaining nuclear weapons in Scotland outweigh any perceived deterrence benefits;

The UK Government has made significant investment over years in upgrading facilities at HMNB Clyde, including £300 million in the past 2 years and has also announced that HMNB Clyde will become the base for all Britain's in-service submarines by 2017. In light of this, the Working Group considers that HMNB Clyde can have a continuing role as a strategic naval facility for conventionally-armed naval forces, to take advantage of the significant assets already in place and that the UK Government's Maritime Change Programme offers the opportunity in the long-run for stability of employment, without nuclear weapons, at HMNB Clyde;

The projected costs of Trident replacement are already estimated to be far higher than was set out in the 2006 White Paper;

The effect of expenditure on Trident replacement on Scottish budgets, in the context of future Comprehensive Spending Reviews, will have a negative impact on public expenditure in Scotland with a corresponding effect on jobs: the STUC/ CND estimates that replacing Trident could cost Scotland 3000 jobs;

In a separate piece of work figures produced by the STUC/ CND, suggest that up to 1600 civilian jobs may be affected by the removal of nuclear weapons if the UK Government does not put in place an effective transition programme. Analysis of figures provided in response to Parliamentary Questions lodged at Westminster highlights that there were, in 2007, 589 civilian jobs at HMNB Clyde that relied directly on Trident and a further 270 at Dounreay;

In either scenario the Working Group considers that a planned programme of defence diversification, adequately resourced, could ensure that an equivalent, or greater, number of jobs can be created in the local economy;

There is adequate time for the development and implementation of such a planned programme. It is however, important for best use to be made of available time;

Political and legal issues

The NPT is widely regarded as a mainstay of international security. The Treaty and its five-yearly Conferences have committed its Parties to the achievement of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament;

The 2010 Review Conference is likely to be a particularly significant event when governments will attempt to revitalise the Treaty after a period of decline;

The deployment and storage of the UK's nuclear arsenal in Faslane and Coulport places Scotland in a special position and means that the Scottish Government has a particular and legitimate interest in, and contribution to, issues relating to strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty ( NPT) which States Parties will discuss at the Treaty's eighth Review Conference at the United Nations in May 2010;

The Working Group welcomes the current UK Government's commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons and welcomes its initiative to advance understanding of the measures that would be required to verify the elimination of nuclear weapons;

It encourages the UK Government to be bolder in carrying through its commitments and to consult with the Scottish Government and others in preparation for ending the deployment of British nuclear weapons;

It appears that current NPT procedural rules preclude the Scottish Government achieving observer status at the 2010 Review Conference. Therefore, the Working Group suggests other options for engagement with Treaty Parties and civil society to explain the Scottish Government's position and support full compliance with all the NPT's obligations and requirements;

Opinions on the legality of nuclear weapons and the responsibilities of States and administrations within States are divided. Consideration should be given to understanding the implications of all the relevant legal opinions, especially for the assistance given by the Scottish Government and agencies to the deployment and operation of the Trident system;

Regulatory issues

The regulation of defence-related nuclear sites in Scotland lacks public accountability and relies on concordats and letters of agreement rather than the law of the land;

The basis on which regulations are applied to some defence-related nuclear activities but not others is unclear;

Potential terrorist threats to nuclear bases and transports may be a more significant risk than the hazards from an accident and it is not clear that contingency plans take account of this increased probability;

Local authority emergency planning services do not appear to be involved in preparing for incidents involving nuclear warhead convoys on Scotland's public roads;

There is scope for further investigation to clarify issues relating to the regulatory regime and the adequacy of civil contingency arrangements;

Promoting peace and disarmament

Scotland, and in particular, Scottish civil society, has much to offer to support international efforts to promote peace and reconciliation;

Efforts to support peace and reconciliation should be made within the context of contributing to increased global security;

Currently limited resources could be used creatively to increase capacity and to add value to ongoing activities;

Initiatives such as the Edinburgh Conversations and experiences such as the Craigellachie peace talks (2003) provide strong bases on which to build further initiatives.

The Scottish Government is presented with, and invited to act upon, a range of appropriate options, relevant to the prescribed remit of the Group, to ensure that the interests of Scotland are best represented.