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A non-nuclear independent Scotland in NATO? (BBC Radio interview)

Entretien à BBC Radio l’émission 5 Live Drive - 20 novembre, 2013
Seminar and conference
Hajnalka Vincze

Should the SNP’s (Scottish National Party) anti-nuclear stance be a problem for an independent Scotland eager to keep its membership card in NATO ?* In short, not really. Calling for the removal of UK nuclear weapons from its territory and becoming a non-nuclear state is not a priori inconsistent with membership in NATO. Reminder: 20 member countries out of the current 28 do not possess and/or host any nuclear weapons on their soil.

By the way, this distinction (between possession and hosting) has every reason to be. While three NATO member states are nuclear powers recognized as such (the United States, France and the United Kingdom), five others ( Italy, Germany, Turkey , the Netherlands and Belgium) allow the stationing of U.S. nuclear weapons on their territory (albeit it is more and more controversial politically) .

On the other hand, to be part of NATO automatically entails participation in the so-called nuclear sharing within the Alliance. Which is supposed to make NATO’s nuclear policy seem like teamwork. In this spirit, the non-nuclear member states themselves become “dipped” in more than one way: through the concepts and exercises, they are requested to contribute with their conventional capabilities (such as air-to-air refueling for example) to the smooth course of any possible nuclear NATO operations.

In reality, it is but a farce. Despite all the structures and procedures that are devoted to maintaining the illusion, the practice of NATO nuclear “sharing” is ultimately subject to Washington’s goodwill on any given day. Needless to say, the credibility of such arrangements is nil. The “dipped” Member States become indeed complicit in the US nuclear policy, but without any right (with regard to consultation or influence) guaranteed.

For illustration, an incident occurred in 1973, with British Prime Minister Edward Heath as main accessory in it. Let us just imagine the scene for a moment. The head of the United Kingdom’s government is debating nonchalantly in the House of Commons when he learns, through a news agency dispatch, that his American ally has just declared global nuclear alert. Cold shower, for sure. Far from having been consulted before, the faithful Briton had not even been informed.

All arrangements and discourse on nuclear "sharing" in NATO turned out to be what they really are: mere words in the air. The United States did, and will always do, follow their own interests. Not anybody else’s. Given that we are talking of their bombs, it is also the very least they owe to their own citizens.


* The Scottish people will be called to the polls to decide on their separation (or not ) from the “rUK” (rest of the UK ) at an  “independence referendum” on 18 September 2014. In this perspective, the SNP had changed its traditional anti- NATO stance at its Party Conference in October 2012 (with a slim majority of 394 against 365 votes from the delegates), and now recommends for an independent Scotland to remain in the Alliance.


royaume-uni, dissuasion nucléaire, ecosse, otan

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