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UK nuclear arsenal under question ahead of global abolition meeting in Scotland
Tuesday 9 April 2013

UK Premier Cameron challenged by former Secretary of Defence and Scottish Parliament

With nuclear tensions rising in the Korean Peninsula, a referendum on Scottish independence looking in 2014, and less than two weeks until a global nuclear abolition meeting in Edinburgh, the issue of UK’s nuclear arsenal which is based in Faslane, Scotland, has become a political hot potato for UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Scottish parliament and public opinion are strongly in favour of evicting the UK’s entire Trident nuclear force from Scotland should independence be achieved.

In an attempt to ward off this possibility, Prime Minister Cameron on a visit to Scotland earlier this week, highlighted the importance of the nuclear arsenal, claiming that it was necessary in the face of nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea. “The fact is North Korea does have nuclear technology that is able to reach the whole of the United States" he said. "If they are able to reach the whole of the United States, they can reach Europe too. They can reach us, too.” Blending geopolitics with his opposition to Scottish independence, Mr. Cameron also welcomed home the crew of a nuclear-armed submarine based in western Scotland and told defense industry workers that their jobs were more secure in a United Britain (See British Premier Says Nuclear Risks Highlight Need for Deterrent, NY Times, 4 April 2013 ).

Former Defence Secretary Michael Portillo (a Conservative) quickly criticised Caneron’s statements as ’absurd’, noting that the idea that a North Korean nuclear weapon could reach the United States, let alone Europe is “extremely unlikely.” Michael Portillo also restated his opposition to renewing trident, saying “I don’t believe in the modern world it is necessary for Britain to have one.” (Michael Portillo challenges Cameron’s ‘absurd’ North Korea nuclear claim, The Times of London, 5 April 2013).

Scottish National Party MSP Bill Kidd who is a Co-President of the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), said: “David Cameron’s bizarre comments yesterday are beyond belief, and have rightly been met with outright derision. It is simply nonsense to try to argue that North Korea’s behaviour justifies wasting up to £100 billion on new Trident nuclear weapons"

“A decade ago in the run up to the Iraq war, Tony Blair claimed that Iraq was capable of launching an attack with weapons of mass destruction at 45 minutes’ notice to in order to justify invasion. No evidence of such weapons was ever found," said Kidd. "Ten years on from Tony Blair’s dodgy dossier, and it seems another Westminster Prime Minister is determined to use inflated threats of WMDs to justify his own ends."

“Polls show that four- fifths of people in Scotland do not want weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde - our Parliament has voted against Trident - and no amount of scaremongering from David Cameron will change these facts.”

Abolition 2000, the Global Network for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, will be holding its annual general meeting in Edinburgh from April 17-19. Kidd notes that "The two year countdown to the Independence Referendum in the autumn of 2014 will see a number of highlight events and none will be of greater importance than this visit of international activists and experts on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament coming to Scotland and our Parliament.”

The Abolition 2000 meeting is open to anyone interested. Contact or

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