Key U.K. Tories Said to Want Nuclear Arms Based in U.S., If Scots Expel Them

Global Security Newswire Staff
April 21, 2014, 8:05 a.m.

Some U.K. Con­ser­vat­ive Party lead­ers are said to sup­port tem­por­ar­ily basing Brit­ish nuc­le­ar arms in the United States if they are ex­pelled from Scot­land.

The Tory-led co­ali­tion gov­ern­ment in Lon­don is fiercely op­posed to a cam­paign sponsored by Scot­tish na­tion­al­ists to se­cede from the United King­dom. If voters choose in­de­pend­ence in a Septem­ber ref­er­en­dum, the loc­ally gov­ern­ing Scot­tish Na­tion­al Party has vowed to quickly be­gin re­mov­ing from Scot­land all nuc­le­ar-armed Tri­dent D-5 mis­siles — and ul­ti­mately the sub­mar­ines that carry them — by 2020.

Lon­don has not of­fi­cially ac­know­ledged any con­tin­gency scen­ari­os for a pos­sible fu­ture in which the nuc­le­ar-armed fleet of four Van­guard-class ves­sels is ordered out of an in­de­pend­ent Scot­land.

Privately, however, some seni­or Con­ser­vat­ive mem­bers think the sub­mar­ines and weapons could be tem­por­ar­ily sent to the United States, the Glas­gow Her­ald re­por­ted on Sat­urday. The two al­lies have a long­stand­ing co­oper­a­tion agree­ment re­lated to equip­ping and main­tain­ing the U.K. sub­mar­ines with the Tri­dent mis­siles.

“Tri­dent could go to Amer­ica if Scot­land votes for in­de­pend­ence,” an an­onym­ous Con­ser­vat­ive source told the news­pa­per. “It would not be ideal for the U.K.’s nuc­le­ar de­terrent to be based out­side the U.K. But it would be a per­fectly doable solu­tion in the short term, as a ‘stop gap’ meas­ure.”

Un­der such a scen­ario, the fleet would be re­turned to the United King­dom as a home base once new fa­cil­it­ies have been con­struc­ted to re­place the lost sites in Scot­land.

A 2012 re­port by a Brit­ish par­lia­ment­ary pan­el re­com­men­ded the gov­ern­ment weigh tem­por­ar­ily re­lo­cat­ing some Van­guard sub­mar­ines to the U.S. Nav­al Sub­mar­ine Base Kings Bay in south­east Geor­gia; navy fa­cil­it­ies in France were also sug­ges­ted as a po­ten­tial host­ing solu­tion.

Mean­while, a new Brit­ish De­fence Min­istry re­port has dis­closed that there were more than 260 atom­ic-safety in­cid­ents at its nuc­le­ar fa­cil­it­ies in Scot­land in the last half-dec­ade, RIA Nov­osti re­por­ted on Monday.

The min­istry said hu­man er­ror was re­spons­ible for 75 per­cent of the in­cid­ents, which in­cluded “false alarms and sys­tem fail­ures” for com­puters that over­see war­heads.

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