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NATO Status May Be Out of Reach for a Nuclear-Free Scotland

The ability of an independent Scotland to join NATO was thrown into doubt when top alliance officials told a Scottish delegation that no country could achieve membership if  there were any unresolved military or territorial disputes with another NATO nation, the London Guardian reported.

A team of Scottish civil servants last month traveled to NATO headquarters in Brussels to broach the subject of Scotland joining NATO if its voters choose to leave the United Kingdom in a referendum next year. The team argued that an independent Scotland should be given preferential treatment, as the new country would have previously been a member of a founding member of NATO, the United Kingdom, the newspaper reported.

Article 10 of the NATO treaty stipulates that a nation seeking admittance to the group must demonstrate a history of stable defense policies and structures, as well as the understanding that every nation in the group must accept a nuclear first-strike policy, according to the Guardian.

The main obstacle to Scotland's joining NATO arises out of its ruling party's desire to remove nuclear warheads from Trident D-5 missiles deployed on submarines ported at the Royal Naval Base Clyde.

The Scottish National Party in March approved a stipulation for Scotland's constitution that the "housing, basing and possession" of nuclear arms would be banned. That led to U.K. debate last month over the idea of declaring the Trident nuclear submarine base sovereign territory, should Scottish voters decide to become independent of London.

An independent study released in June concluded that Scotland would most likely have to choose between the removal of British nuclear weapons or NATO membership.

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