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Scotland needs to set its sights higher than the relic that is Nato

ANGUS Robertson's resolution on SNP defence policy suggests two conditions for continued Nato membership ("SNP reveals plans for policy shift on Nato", The Herald, July 17).

The first is the earliest possible removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland. This means in effect the end of the present UK's nuclear capacity since there is nowhere else for Trident to go and these weapons are assigned to Nato. The second condition is the continued acceptance by Nato that members have no obligation to participate in wars not sanctioned by the UN. Since the resolution also says that the SNP reiterates its commitment to non-nuclear defence and international law, there should be one other essential condition – that Nato members take serious action to fulfil their obligations under Article 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which states that the existing nuclear powers should "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament". If this were a condition of membership, it would focus the debate on the failure of Nato members to initiate a convincing programme for nuclear disarmament despite their legal obligations as NPT signatories.

The countries which have made a serious contribution in calling for the elimination of all the nuclear arsenals have been those in the New Agenda Coalition – Brazil, Mexico, Sweden, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, Egypt. That is where Scotland should be. We need to set our sights higher than a relic of the Cold War.

One alarming comment in the resolution is that "environmental changes to the High North and Arctic Region raise major regional challenges and responsibilities... Scotland will require military capabilities to fulfil these". Is there an expectation that Scotland would be drawn into military action to defend US or Canadian oil interests as opposed to Russian? We would certainly be unable to take any shared action against all exploitation of the Arctic environment if there were other Nato members on opposing sides of such a conflict.

This is a statement rooted in the past and lacking the confident international vision Scotland needs. Its principal virtue is that it is much better than the defence policies of Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Tories.

Isobel Lindsay,

9 Knocklea Place, Biggar.

THERE are now 28 members of Nato, more than double the original 1949 founding membership of 12. The big leap occurred post-1997 when the old communist countries applied to join, followed by the ex-Soviet Baltic states around 2000.

Scotland would have to be invited to join Nato and would require the unanimous support of the other member states. There is the rub. The US (the undisputed Nato boss) would almost certainly make it mandatory that Scotland retain nuclear submarine bases on the Clyde as a condition of membership. Only three Nato members have nuclear weapons (the US, France and UK) so it would be unlikely that Scotland would be granted membership while rejecting nuclear weapons on its soil. The UK Government no doubt would exercise a veto.

But why would Scotland wish to join Nato, a relic of the cold war with pretensions of being a global policeman? It is a club for mutual defence but carries with it other undesirable global political/military obligations.

There is the alternative to being in Nato without being out of Nato: the Swedish model. With thousand of miles of North Atlantic coastline Scotland requires a coastguard/naval presence and could receive shared Nato protection without actually being a member through an Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP). Approved at the Prague summit of 2002 the IPAP (often called the Partnership for Peace) creates an agreement with an individual state which desires to co-operate with Nato without applying for full membership while including the option of eventual membership.

Scotland on successful IPAP application might, like Sweden, participate in the European Security and Defence Policy, gaining co-operation with Nato yet still remaining neutral. This would give Scotland certain strategic defence protection rights without locking the country into full Nato status: an effective diplomatic compromise.

Thom Cross,

64 Market Place,

Carluke.

SCOTTISH CND welcomes the SNP's announcement that it would seek the speediest safe removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland. We recently published a report, Disarming Trident, which shows that this could be accomplished within two years. As there is no alternative site for Trident, the removal of these weapons from Faslane would result in nuclear disarmament for Britain.

However, Scottish CND does not support the UK or an independent Scotland being members of Nato. The alliance is a creature of the Cold War and an anachronism. The Strategic Concept says that so long as nuclear weapons exist, Nato will remain a nuclear alliance. While there are members of the alliance who are actively working for nuclear disarmament, they have, so far, been unable to effect a change in Nato's approach to these weapons of mass destruction.

John Ainslie,

Co-ordinator,

Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament,

77 Southpark Avenue, Glasgow.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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