Saturday, 3 November 2012

Britain's obscene killing machines

In 1996, the International Court of Justice declared that to use - or threaten to use - nuclear weapons is illegal in almost all conceivable circumstances. The one exception would be in retaliation to a nuclear attack.

However, where two countries embark on a nuclear war, the outcome is known as ‘MAD’, which stands for Mutually Assured Destruction. The two countries which used nuclear weapons against each other would see millions of their citizens killed and their national infrastructure would be blown back to the stone-age. To all intents and purposes those countries would cease to exist.

The most heavily-armed nuclear country is the United States of America, closely followed by Russia. In fact, the two nations possess 95% of all the nuclear weapons on the face of the planet. Their arsenals are mainly a legacy of the Cold War, which ended around 20 years ago. Both America and Russia (and the United Kingdom) claim their nuclear weapons of mass destruction act as a deterrent, preventing other nations from launching attacks against them. However, terrorist groups have not been deterred. Nuclear weapons, which kill indiscriminately and on a mass scale, could not have been used against those who carried out murderous attacks against New York, Moscow and London.

Nuclear weapons cannot be used, yet nine countries – including the United Kingdom – continue to spend billions-of pounds creating and maintaining them.

Last week, Philip Hammond MP, the UK Defence Secretary, came to Scotland and used his visit to announce the British Government will spend £350m on designing new nuclear-armed submarines to replace the current Trident boats. This spending commitment is in addition to £350m previously announced for the same purpose. In total, therefore, the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition Government will spend £700m of our money designing new submarines to carry nuclear missiles that can never be used. This money will be spent despite the fact no decision on replacing the four Trident subs will be taken by the UK Parliament until 2016, a year after the next scheduled Westminster Election.

During his visit, Mr Hammond also made clear that the UK Government does not intend to make any plans to move Britain’s nuclear base from Faslane on the Clyde. Despite a majority of Scots consistently indicating their opposition to nuclear weapons being located on Scottish soil or in our waters, and despite the very real possibility that Scots will retake our national independence in 2014, the London-based British Government arrogantly presumes their costly weapons of mass destruction will be staying where they are.

All of the main pro-independence political parties – the Scottish National Party, Scottish Socialist Party and the Green Party – are committed to removing nuclear weapons from Scotland, including our territorial waters. The SNP’s recent conversion to supporting membership of the nuclear-armed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has perhaps clouded the issue, but the presumption still has to be that the government of an independent Scotland will take action to permanently remove Trident submarines and their missiles, whether or not that suits the agenda of a pro-nuclear government in London.

The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (SCND) has produced a detailed document explaining the timescale for making-safe Britain’s nuclear missiles and ultimately removing them from Scotland. The document, widely acknowledged as being accurate, states that Trident (the missiles on all four subs) could be deactivated within seven-days, with most of the time taken up by waiting for the return to base of the subs out on patrol.

The next step would be to remove warheads from the missiles, which SCND has calculated could be done in about eight to ten weeks.

Overall, SCND states the safe removal, storage and verification of warheads, missiles and submarines could take around two-years, meaning Britain’s nuclear arsenal could cease to exist by 2018 (two-years after the first election to Scotland’s independent parliament created as a result of the 2014 referendum).

If Westminster politicians want to retain their hugely expensive weapons of mass destruction, then perhaps the arrogant Mr Hammond and his Tory-led Government should start showing some respect for the will of the Scottish people.

In addition to the already-committed design costs of £700m, it is projected that to build and maintain a new missile system to replace Trident will cost UK taxpayers between £72bn and £120bn. One bonus of Scots re-taking our political independence, therefore, would be a financial saving of up to £12bn from not creating more weapons of mass destruction.

However, the greater benefit would be in making the world a safer place. Currently, with the existing Trident system, the UK has four nuclear-powered submarines, three of which are always operational. There are 14 nuclear missiles with forty-eight 100kiloton warheads on each submarine. This can be increased to 96 warheads, giving a potential total of 384. One Trident warhead is eight-times more powerful than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Therefore, the existing UK nuclear arsenal is capable of producing 3,072 Hiroshimas. There were around 140,000 people killed by the Hiroshima bomb (not including those who died much later as a result of the nuclear fall-out). Right now, the United Kingdom has the capacity and the capability to kill in the region of 43,000,000 people using missiles on Trident submarines based in Scotland.

Scots don’t want these obscene killing machines.

Just one more reason to vote for independence.

No comments:

Post a Comment