Arguing for Scotland’s separation from England and the warmongering powers of Westminster on the grounds that we do not want weapons of mass destruction not thirty miles from our largest population centre makes a number of assumptions about our nuclear arsenal. It stands primarily on the belief that we do not need a nuclear deterrent as part of our defence policy, and, among other things, it assumes that the storage of these weapons in Scotland is not safe. Naturally the British government and the military establishment in Whitehall will argue that the nature of world politics demands that nation states like Great Britain demand a deterrent of atomic proportions for ‘the greater good,’ and nuclear experts will say that such weapons are safe. It is important then that we address these two objections in particular.
From the Soviet submarine K-19 incident in 1961, through the Chernobyl meltdown of 1986, to the 2011 failure of the Fukushima plant in Japan, it is patently obvious that accidents do happen. Nuclear weapons by their very nature are not safe. They, like other, more conventional weapons, are not intended to be safe. It is true that safety measures can be put in place to minimise the potential of harm coming to those who use them, but accidents, by their own peculiar nature, still happen. In this regard the safety of nuclear weapons is no different from handguns or grenades. What keeps the numbers of nuclear incidents comparatively lower is the proportionally smaller ratio of nukes to handguns and grenades. What makes the problem of nuclear accidents different is the disproportionately higher level of damage that can be done by them.
British military propagandists will continue to underline the fact that these examples did not happen in Scotland, and that they were not under the care of British authorities. What they will refuse to speak about is the continual radioactive leak from Dounreay that happened over the course of decades until its closure in 1993. Nuclear energy and nuclear weapons simply are not safe. The best defence that they can be given is that they are ‘worth the risk.’ This brings us back to the first assumption – that we do not need a nuclear deterrent in Scotland.
The British Ministry of Defence will have us believe that we are safer having nuclear weapons even with the risk of a meltdown because other countries will be more reluctant to attack us if we have the capability to blow them to kingdom come. The accompanying defence is that nuclear weapons keep the world safe. It follows logically then that other island nations like Iceland and Cuba are at extreme risk of foreign aggression. Yet neither Iceland nor Cuba appears to be too worried about this obvious risk to their security. Rather than making the world a safer place, as nukes promise to do, more human beings have died globally as a result of war since 1945 than in the seventy years before the Manhattan Project. Both of these positions are patently absurd. Nuclear weapons are not required to deter aggression from another state, and they do not make the world a safer place. What nuclear weapons in Scotland may do is keep Britain safe and prevent British people being killed in Britain as a result of war, and this has more to do with the historical behaviour of Britain than it does with the violent nature of the world. This latter point is analogous to the gangster sleeping with a loaded six-shooter under his pillow. There are some very good reasons why most people don’t need to sleep with weapons under the pillow.
Great Britain has not been in the habit of making close friendships abroad. Today British foreign policy is all but indistinguishable from American foreign policy – another nation that has not been in the habit of building deep and meaningful friendships around the world. Britain has and continues to make many enemies around the world, and so without powerful weapons Britain is not a safe nation. This fact is arguably more frightening than the perceived need of nuclear weapons.
Britain needs nuclear weapons because there are people, organisations and countries that mean to do Britain serious harm. Neither Iceland nor Cuba has this problem. In this case, when we speak of Britain we are speaking of the political establishment of Britain rather than the British people. Westminster has, by its historic and present behaviour, put millions of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish people at risk. Britain, rather than the present Islamist militants or the Soviet Union of the past, seems to be the problem in this equation, and the simple truth is that Scotland does not need to be a part of this nonsense. Sadly, London may never be safe from the threat of crows coming home to roost, but should the financial burden of Westminster’s proverbial six-shooter under the pillow or the risk of it accidently discharging in the night come at a cost to Scotland’s welfare? No! Absolutely not! Scotland’s greatest danger is not a threat from abroad, but its entanglement with a psychopathic powerhouse in London.
Jason Michael, Ayrshire