Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
U.K. Gov't Refuses to Share Plans for Moving Nukes From Scotland
A British government minister has declined repeated requests from lawmakers to disclose details about potential contingency arrangements for the housing of the nation's nuclear-armed submarines should Scotland choose to expel them after a planned secession vote, the Western Morning News reported on Wednesday (see GSN, Jan. 30).
Defense Equipment, Support and Technology Minister Peter Luff in prepared comments said: "The Ministry of Defense is not making plans to change the base ports of those classes of submarines currently base-ported at HM Naval Base Clyde (Faslane). The department does not therefore hold cost estimates or other information that would relate to such changes."
The Scottish National Party has called for a vote on secession as early as 2014. The party supports evicting the United Kingdom's four Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines from Faslane, along with the long-range Trident missiles and nuclear warheads stored at the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport.
Luff's statement continued: "The government are not making plans for independence as we are confident that people in Scotland will continue to support the union in any referendum."
Despite such official expressions of confidence, defense sources told the newspaper the government in London would likely have to pursue agreement with an independent Scotland to retain British naval usage of Faslane and Coulport while backup sites are readied to house the nuclear weapons and delivery systems.
"Berths [for the submarines] are not a problem -- there are docks on the south coast that could be used without too much fuss," one anonymous insider said. "But there simply isn't anywhere else where we can do what we do at Coulport and, without that, there is no deterrent" (Graeme Demianyk, Western Morning News/This is North Devon, Feb. 2).
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The submarine proliferation resource collection is designed to highlight global trends in the sale and acquisition of diesel- and nuclear-powered submarines. It is structured on a country-by-country basis, with each country profile consisting of information on capabilities, imports and exports.
This article provides an overview of the United Kingdom’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.