LONDON — The Scottish government has outlined plans for the country’s national defense if the country votes to declare independence from the United Kingdom next September.
Outlining its plans in a 670-page white paper entitled “Scotland’s Future,” the Scottish National Party—which is leading the calls for independence—plans to give the British government until 2021 to dismantle the infrastructure in Scotland that supports the U.K.’s nuclear capability, as well as establish its own defenses with air, land and marine forces.
Referencing the U.K.’s Trident-based deterrent, the document states that billions of pounds have been “wasted on weapons that must never be used and, unless we act now, we risk wasting a further £100 billion [$160 billion], over its lifetime, on a new nuclear weapons system.”
“This Scottish Government would make early agreement on the speediest safe removal of nuclear weapons a priority. This would be with a view to the removal of Trident within the first term of the Scottish Parliament following independence [in 2016].” This statement, based on parliamentary rules, would give London until 2021 to move the nuclear deterrent from Faslane Naval Base on the Clyde.
“Westminster’s commitment to nuclear weapons leaves other aspects of our defense weakened,” the document adds, pointing to the U.K.’s lack of maritime patrol capability and the fact there are no navy surface ships based in Scottish waters.
“There is greater risk to safety and security in Scotland’s airspace and waters as a result,” the white paper adds.
The document states that if Scotland becomes independent, it would inherit a share of the U.K.’s defense assists, which would help it establish a defense force. According to the document, a 2007 U.K. Defense Ministry report estimated that the total value of its assets and investments was £93 billion. The document states that based on population, Scotland’s share of those assets would be around £7.8 billion. The Scottish government believes it could fund the country’s defense and security for £2.5 billion a year, with a focus on maritime capabilities including the rapid re-establishment of an airborne maritime patrol capability.
“A detailed specification of requirements will be developed as a priority, and final numbers of aircraft required will depend on this,” the white paper states.
Scotland’s total forces could reach 15,000 regular and 5,000 reserve personnel over the decade following independence, with the air force using 12, for quick reaction alert, and a tactical air transport squadron using six Hercules, the document claims. There also would be a helicopter squadron.
An independent Scotland also would have to establish capabilities to deal with cyberwarfare and counter-terrorism.
Reports suggest that many Scots are dubious about the country seceding from the rest of the U.K. Recent opinion polls suggest that the “No” campaign has the lead, particularly as senior ministers in Westminster point out that Scots will be worse off in terms of taxation under independence.
The Scottish government hopes to hold the referendum in the fall of 2014, and if the people vote “Yes,” it is the administration’s intention is to have a constitutional platform in place for Scotland to become independent by March 2016.