by Joe Scarry
Q: What’s the most important thing happening in global security in the next 12 months.
A: The YES vote in Scotland.
Okay, okay, don’t feel bad. It was under my radar, too, at least until I attended the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Prepcom in New York a few weeks ago. Scots go to the polls on the question of independence on Thursday, September 18, 2014, and there is a possibility they will vote to secede from the United Kingdom.
The outcome is not a foregone conclusion. “A TNS poll on March 25 showed that 42 percent would reject independence, with 28 percent voting “yes” and 28 percent undecided,” reported Reuters. But Reuters also reports that Alistair Carmichael, Britain’s Secretary of State for Scotland, “warns that the vote could ultimately go for secession.”
But wait – what’s that got to do with “the most important thing happening in global security in the next 12 months”?
If Scotland secedes, there is a strong likelihood that Scotland would decide to close the Trident submarine base at Faslane, and its accompanying Coulport nuclear missile depot.
|“NO ROOM FOR DEBATE: The SNP’s stance on Trident was so firm
there could be no negotiation over its removal, said Scotland Office
minister David Mundell.” Picture: PA in Herald Scotland
Faslane/Coulport is the only nuclear submarine base in the British Isles.
Now, there is a diversity of opinion about what might happen next. England might negotiate to obtain lease on the base, so it can stay open. (Some commentators call that unlikely.) England might decide to move the Tridents to a port in England. (But that would require them to create a depot to store the nuclear missiles – a dicey proposition in densely populated areas.) England might find another country to allow them to base this dangerous cargo; some have suggested France. (Um – hello? France?)
And all of this is happening smack in the runup to the every-5-year Non Proliferation Treaty review conference in May, 2015. There is already a showdown brewing over the refusal of nuclear states (read: the U.S.) to move swiftly to full disarmament. The spectre of British Isle de-nuclearization, combined with pushback against nukes coming from America’s erstwhile NATO allies in Europe could lend great weight to calls for disarmament.
I’ll be writing more soon about what I learned about anti-nuclear momentum building among the governments of Northern Europe. In the meantime, think: