IN response to Isobel Lindsay's letter (February 14) regarding the UK's Trident missile system, I feel it necessary to offer some clarifications to ensure discourse is grounded in accurate information. Ms Lindsay suggested that the United States controls the Trident system, rendering the UK's nuclear deterrent neither independent nor fully under British control. However, this interpretation does not align with the operational realities of the Trident system. It is inaccurate.

The Trident system, deployed on the UK's Vanguard-class submarines, forms the backbone of the British strategic nuclear force. Each submarine is capable of carrying up to 16 Trident II D5 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles, which are a crucial component of the UK's continuous at-sea deterrent, operational since 1967.

Contrary to the belief that the US can prevent the UK from using Trident missiles or that the US controls the system's targeting, the UK retains full operational command. The Trident missiles utilise a stellar sighting guidance system and inertial navigation, independent of GPS, negating the possibility of external "shutdown". While it is true that the missiles are part of a communal pool for maintenance at the US Strategic Weapons facility in King's Bay, Georgia, this logistical arrangement does not equate to US control over the missiles deployed on British submarines.

It's also crucial to dispel the myth that the UK's Trident requires American codes to launch. Unlike the US system, which uses Permissive Action Links (PALs) to secure authorisation for launch, the UK's system does not. The decision to launch a Trident missile rests solely within the UK's chain of command, culminating with the Prime Minister. This ensures that the UK has full operational control over its nuclear deterrent.

The discourse around nuclear deterrence and disarmament is profoundly important, but it is essential that such discussions are informed by an understanding of the operational status and control mechanisms of the UK's Trident system rather than myths.

George Allison, Editor, UK Defence Journal, Cambuslang.

US voters will not save us

PAUL McPhaill's plea to the people of America to save the world (Letters, February 14), regretfully will fall on deaf ears to a massive number of American voters.

There is a great deal of sympathy throughout that continent that "charity begins at home" and the fruit of their money tree is better spent elsewhere. This is especially so in the Mid West and red Republican Far West states.

In 2006 Nato mandated that 2% of each member's GDP should go to refresh and modernise their military commitment. Regretfully, mainly due to the worldwide economic crisis in 2007-2008, this was not done. In 2014 another call was made to those countries to increase their military expenditure; only now it would seem that some financial effort is being made.

The main focus of American military thinking now appears to be based on how to counter increasingly belligerent Chinese activity in the Pacific Ocean.

The fact that Nato is an alliance designed to support each other does not resonate with the followers of citizen Trump,and perhaps President Trump, and therefore Europe must face up to the painful reality that if you want peace you may have to prepare for war.

Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.

Read more: We have no control over Trident. Keeping it is utter madness

The paradox of our energy

MARTIN Williams’ report that the UK Government will not intervene “to save Scotland's only oil refinery” at Grangemouth ("No oil cash bail-out to rescue Grangemouth, say ministers", The Herald, February 16) is not great surprise as if one examines the processing of energy and its export they are not activities to be undertaken in Scotland.

It is not surprising as not only is the only oil refinery to be allowed to close, but if one examines where energy interconnectors (transporting electricity between countries) with continental Europe reach UK landfall, there is none that is north of Middlesborough. Or to put this another way, if the plentiful but also renewable, ecologically-positive energy generated in Scotland is to be exported it simply has to pass through England.

In that regard is it not a particularly striking irony that North Sea revenues over two years are forecast “to soar to £17.2bn”? Ten years after forecasters and the London government were lining up to inquire what an independent Scotland would do when the oil fields were dry? Well, I think we would look forward to spending that £17.2 billion?

The Herald: There will be no rescue bid for GrangemouthThere will be no rescue bid for Grangemouth (Image: Agency)

However, back in reality, does this not support the conclusion that where production of energy is concerned, advantageous downstream activities such as processing (where the jobs are) and exporting (where the money is) are not matters for Scotland? Scotland can produce the raw material, but neither process nor export it. Those activities, and the economic advantages that accompany them, will be undertaken elsewhere.

Is it possible that Scotland is the only country in the world that has such enormous advantages in the production of energy, yet our capacity to exploit this is restricted by political decisions. Consider what happens in Norway with its oil, with its government participation agreements resulting in a gargantuan "Pension Fund". It is though especially important to be aware of the contrast of the Norwegian "planned for community advantage" approach to energy production and the laissez-fair, Dodge City approach of a succession of UK governments.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

UK leading at Scots' expense

JIM Stamper (Letters, February 15) is so right about subsidy and resources anent our colonial status in the UK.

On energy, he could have added that our renewable companies, on the latest figures I have seen, pay £7.36 to connect their output to the grid, 40% of which goes to England. If they were doing exactly the same in Wales, it would cost them 49p, and in the South-east they would get a subsidy as a thank you. An independent Scotland with our own separate grid would already be nearly self-sufficient in energy, without the need for nuclear. Once other proposed reliable sources, such as pumped hydro, come on stream, we would probably still be exporting to England, but being paid. Yet all we hear is that the UK is a world-leader in renewables; yes, at Scotland’s expense.

Then there is oil and gas, of which more than 80% has always been, and will continue to be, in Scottish territorial waters, except for the four oil and two gas wells which Tony Blair acquired for England by moving the sea border northwards as devolution loomed. The McCrone report, still available online, revealed just how wealthy this discovery could make an independent Scotland and advised against ever letting the extent and lifespan of these resources be made public. Since then, Scotland has been credited with only a population proportion of the proceeds, roughly 8.4%. Let that sink in: Scotland gets 8.4% of the income from an asset that is 80% Scottish.

Does anyone think more deeply when they buy on the internet from a company headquartered in England and pay VAT on the item? That VAT goes to the company and is thereafter absorbed into the returns of that English company, not credited as paid in Scotland. How many millions of pounds paid by Scots become English every year?

Mr Stamper is right. Our colonial masters convince us that we need their support while they profit from our resources.

L McGregor, Falkirk.

Read more: SNP must do better if the indy voice is ever to be heard

We know what SNP is capable of

SANDY Slater (Letters, February 16) writes that "a better performance by the Scottish Government will help build a solid majority in favour of independence". Where has he been the last 17 years?

The SNP Government has been in power long enough to show us what it is capable of: nothing but chaos and mismanagement. Whoever gets into power in 2026 will be busy sorting the mess left behind, which will include having hardly any industry to pay taxes and therefore fewer people working, as well as a crippling benefits bill.

Elizabeth Hands, Armadale.

Why I will be abstaining

AS someone who regards voting as the act of a responsible citizen, I can honestly say I have never neglected to vote in any election I was eligible to do so. That said, I now find myself caught between a rock and a hard place when looking ahead to upcoming elections in Westminster and Holyrood.

At this precise time, and unless something happens to instil some level of trust in any of the political parties, I will be going with my conscience and abstaining. It would just feel wrong to put an X next to the name of someone representing any of the parties, given their self-serving attitude and lack of conviction in truly setting out achievable goals which would be of benefit to the common folk.

John O'Kane, Glasgow.