TP Congratulates Alex Salmond on Plans to Call on UK to Remove Trident


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The Right Honourable Alex Salmond
First Minister
The Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP

26 May 2011


Dear Alex,


It was with great delight that we read in Scotland on Sunday (21 May) of SNP plans to introduce a formal motion at Holyrood to demand that the UK remove Trident from Scotland and “explicitly call for Trident to be scrapped.” Trident Ploughshares wishes to express its enthusiastic support for the government’s bold plan to put this historic resolution before Scottish Parliament. We stand with the Scottish Government in steadfastly opposing the threat of use of nuclear weapons in violation of international law and the principles of humanity. We congratulate the SNP on its intention to fulfil its promise to press Westminster to scrap Trident and urge you to do so as soon as possible.


We believe it is crucial that such a resolution call for Trident’s removal from Scotland and for it to be scrapped and for the UK Government to enter immediate negotiations to establish a nuclear weapons convention.  It should demand Trident be removed from Scotland as it is the clear will and right of the people of Scotland to have no part in the deployment of weapons which threaten the indiscriminate killing of civilians; and it should call upon the UK to scrap Trident as Scotland has the right to be free from the risk of exposure to radioactive fallout posed by a possible exchange of nuclear weapons involving the UK. Even if Trident were based south of the border a nuclear exchange would likely expose the people and environment to radioactive fallout causing death and devastation of Scotland’s environment far into the future.


We noticed with interest your comment on the Today Program 23 May that “the argument for independence is on things like whether Scotland should be forced to participate in the illegal invasion of Iraq and whether we have the right to decide as a nation whether we should have the largest concentration of weapons of mass destruction on the European continent.”  Assertion of the illegality of Trident would strengthen the case for both nuclear disarmament and Scottish independence. The former President of the International Court of Justice H.E. Judge Bedjaoui wrote in Trident and International Law: Scotland’s Obligations  [pp. 90-91] that “a nuclear weapons system that deploys over 100 nuclear warheads with an approximate yield of 100 kt per warhead…. would be illegal.”[1]


[1]  Trident and International Law: Scotland’s Obligations. Ed. Rebecca Johnson and Angie Zelter. Luath. 2011. ISBN 1-906817-24-3.

In your reply (Ref. 2010/0030022, January 2011) to our letter sent in response to the Report of the Scotland Without Nuclear Weapons Working Group and the Response of the Scottish Government to that Report you indicated that Bruce Crawford would reply to us once the legal issues we raised had been considered. We have as yet received no reply. Additional detailed discussion of these issues, by Aidan O’Neill QC, H.E. Judge Bedjaoui and H.E. Judge Christopher Weeramantry, former Vice-President of the International Court of Justice can be found in Trident and International Law which was launched on the 1st of February at Scottish Parliament. A copy of the book is included with this letter.. These articles suggest a conflict between the reservation of Defense to Westminster under the devolved settlement and the requirement that Scotland “observe and implement international obligations” which, according to Schedule 5 Part I Paragraph 7(2)(a) of the Scotland Act, is not reserved. [Trident and International Law, p. 43] We urge you to complete the review of the case for the illegality of Trident and Scotland’s obligation to refuse complicity with its deployment.


The world looks to Scotland to boldly lead the way to the disarmament of the UK’s nuclear weapons and provide the impetus for global abolition of nuclear weapons.


In peace, on behalf of Trident Ploughshares
Angie Zelter
Jane Tallents
Janet Fenton
David Mackenzie
Brian Larkin


cc. Bruce Crawford, Minister for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy

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