Check out my latest article about the future of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent on the Center for Arms Control website.
A mixture of geography and nationalism has set the stage in the United Kingdom for a referendum in 2014 that will ask voters a straightforward question with complex consequences: Should Scotland be an independent nation?
A complicating factor for the referendum is that while the United Kingdom is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a recognized nuclear weapon state in accordance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the strategic nuclear weapons forces which it possesses are all located on submarines based in Scotland. The majority party in the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish National Party, has declared that if they achieve independence in 2014, they would call for the unilateral removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland.
The possibility of Scottish independence brings into serious question the future of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent. According to William Walker, there is no other existing submarine base in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland that would be able to host the United Kingdom’s Vanguard ballistic missile submarines. As the referendum nears and it becomes clearer whether it is likely to pass, there will undoubtedly be a more vigorous search for other basing alternatives within the U.K. Ministry of Defense and Parliament…