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The Nuclear Deterrence FAQ

Posted on April 05, 2013 by

When we’ve reached the point where even the Daily Telegraph is calling the British Prime Minister a liar, it’s probably about time someone laid out the facts about the UK’s nuclear weapons, and in particular how they relate to Scotland.

Let’s see if we can keep it brief.


“We need nukes because we’re at risk of a missile attack from North Korea.”

No we’re not. North Korean missile technology is primitive and plagued by failure – it turns out rocket science IS quite a tricky business after all – and even their next generation of rockets, if they ever get them working, wouldn’t be able to get anywhere near Western Europe. David Cameron’s claim has been ridiculed on all sides.


(It’s perhaps also worth pointing out that it’s extremely difficult to get long-range missile technology working, not just for technical reasons but also simple logistical ones. If you’re a geographically tiny little country like North Korea is, how do you test a missile with a range of thousands of miles? The USA and Russia can manage it because their countries are thousands of miles wide with huge uninhabited areas that you can safely fire a rocket at. North Korea’s barely one-and-a-half times the size of Scotland, but with five times the population.)

“But the North Koreans are MENTAL!”

That does seem to be the case. But you know who they threaten most? You know who they’re actually technically at war with right now? You know who they can DEFINITELY reach with a missile? South Korea. Yet the South Koreans don’t feel any need to have an independent nuclear deterrent. So why on Earth are we more scared of the North Koreans than they are?

“But anything could happen in the future.”

Well, yes. Similarly, we don’t KNOW that the Earth won’t one day be menaced by 900-mile-high robot dinosaurs from space with lasers for eyes, but we don’t spend hundreds of billions of pounds building anti-dinosaur defences on the Moon just in case. That’s because such an attack is only fractionally less likely than North Korea committing mass national suicide by launching a nuclear attack on anyone.

If all the terrifying uncertainty, mad dictators and terrorist loonies in the world mean it’s too risky for the UK not to have nuclear weapons, how come nobody’s bombed Denmark or Finland in the last 60 years? What’s protecting them?

Why hasn’t super-rich Norway been held to ransom by terrorists threatening its oil-rigs? Why has nobody invaded Italy? Why hasn’t there been an Islamic revolution in Holland? Have they just been riding their luck all this time?

“But thousands of jobs depend on Trident.”

No they don’t. The number dependent on the missile system specifically is about 500, according to the Ministry of Defence. Even the Unionists have stopped pretending otherwise – on last night’s Newsnight Scotland, Labour’s David Whitton was careful to say that “the defence industry” at Faslane supported 12,000 jobs, not Trident.

It seems a reasonably safe bet that £403m a year – the actual cost of Trident to Scotland in the coming decade – could create an awful lot more than 500 jobs in the Helensburgh area if used for some other purpose. (It’s enough money to pay 1,000 people a whopping £403,000 a year each, after all.)

“But nuclear weapons keep the global peace by deterring war.”

Then how come the nation with by far the most nukes has also been involved in the most wars? The USA has been at war with someone or other in pretty much every year since the end of WW2. The PM cited the supposed danger of “nuclear blackmail”, but the US’s enormous armoury of missiles doesn’t seem to have deterred anyone from getting in a scrap with them – perhaps because they’ve never been used, even when the US got its backside kicked in Vietnam. (See also the Russians spending a decade being humiliated in Afghanistan without nuking Kabul to dust.)

Not only do nukes not stop you getting into wars, they don’t even guarantee that you’ll win, even when you’ve got thousands of them and the other guy hasn’t got any. They didn’t stop Iraq invading Kuwait. They didn’t stop Argentina invading the Falklands. They didn’t save Tibet from China. And a weapon everyone knows you’re never going to use is no good for anything.

“But it’s undignified and cowardly to rely on bigger nations for protection.”

Is it? Unless you’re personally in the army or the police, you do that every day of your life. If your house catches fire you call the fire brigade, you don’t try to put it out yourself. If you have a heart attack you call an ambulance to take you to hospital, you don’t get a kitchen knife and start hacking around in your own ribcage. If the USA has elected itself the world’s policeman, we might as well let them get on with it. They seem more than happy to do the job.

And if, as was rather comically suggested on last night’s Newsnight Scotland, the USA ever did decide to get rid of all its nukes – something which is considerably less likely than the 900-mile-high robot space dinosaurs scenario – then see above. If the hawkish USA wasn’t prepared to use nuclear weapons even when it was losing a war against a non-nuclear enemy, why would any other country that still had them do so?

(Clue: the fact that nobody particularly wants to conquer an uninhabitable radioactive wasteland is a substantial part of the answer, and the multinational corporations that dictate most of the actions of governments these days also don’t see any great benefit in murdering hundreds of millions of actual or potential customers.)

“Ah, but missiles are a bargaining chip in global disarmament.”

If you believe there will ever be complete nuclear disarmament, do us a favour – go and borrow a cup of sugar from the fairies at the bottom of your garden for us, we’re making tea. Nuclear weapons can’t be uninvented, and the world’s superpowers will never, ever do away with them completely for that reason. And the UK’s arsenal isn’t big enough to be worth anything in negotiations – it’s around 1.3% of the world’s total stockpile.

So the idea that any UK government of any political stripe would surrender every last Trident warhead in return for Russia giving up less than 3% of its own is absurd. The official Labour position that it’s “against” nuclear weapons, but will keep them in order to pursue multilateral disarmament, is as much of an insult to the intelligence of anyone able to tie their own shoelaces as David Cameron’s ludicrous assertion that we need them because of the deadly menace from Pyongyang.

“But if North Korea ever DID nuke us, we’d feel stupid.”

Well, maybe. But Trident’s only possible actual use is as a weapon of vengeance. And if there were sirens howling overhead warning that we were about to be incinerated in a North Korean fireball, to be honest the knowledge that we’d be massacring millions of innocent North Korean civilians (their mad leaders safe in concrete bunkers, of course) in retaliation would be a pretty poor compensation.

And even that argument only really works for little rogue states. If the Russians or Chinese ever went completely doolally and thought there was something to gain by obliterating the UK, do you think they’d be put off by the prospect of a few million casualties from the UK’s one operational Trident submarine?

Russia lost 30 million of its citizens in WW2 and survived just fine. Indeed, even after the unimaginable carnage of the war the USSR felt able to confidently do away with millions more of its own people in a series of brutal purges. It was supposedly Stalin, after all, who said “one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic”.

(And before the ever-tiresome Quote Nazis appear, it doesn’t really matter if he actually said it or not, or whether he was the first to say it – his actions demonstrate unequivocally that he followed the principle.)

The fact is, if the UK was in conflict by itself against Russia or China, our “deterrent” would scare them about as much as a cardboard javelin. And if we were in conflict alongside the USA, our tiddly little one sub’s-worth of missiles would make no meaningful difference to anything. So either way they’re completely pointless.


Have we missed anything? As we’ve seen above, the case for the UK’s nuclear “deterrent” is complete nonsense. When even Michael Portillo says it’s “completely past its sell-by date”, it’s probably time for everyone else to let go.

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126 to “The Nuclear Deterrence FAQ”

  1. Ericmac says:

    Yes.  Can you add something about the relative costs of Trident compared to welfare.  It keeps getting referred to as 1.5% of the total as if its peanuts.    

  2. Cath says:

    “But if North Korea ever DID nuke us, we’d feel stupid.”
    The one plus point of a nuclear attack is that you wouldn’t feel stupid after it. And if you did have a chance for regrets, it would be more that they’d ever been invented, whoever had them had used them, or that your country had been stupid enough to put itself in the line of fire. Or, more likely, that you hadn’t said goodbye properly to your loved one that morning, or had a cross word.
    I doubt in the event of nuclear attack anyone’s first thought would be “damn, if only we still had those nukes 30 miles up the road, none of this would be happening. God I feel stupid for wanting rid of Trident”

  3. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Yes.  Can you add something about the relative costs of Trident compared to welfare.  It keeps getting referred to as 1.5% of the total as if its peanuts.”

    You weren’t here yesterday, then?

  4. It’s probably worth reiterating the largest risks to national security are entirely with the ignorant, subservient foreign policy of the United Kingdom.
    Still, it’s probably worth keeping them in case of imminent Dalek invasion. 😉

  5. Training Day says:

    A sound antidote to the facile Herald editorial today, Stu.  That paper really has hit rock bottom. 

  6. pmcrek says:

    Given Faslane’s safety record, the biggest threat to Scotland is an attack from the UK.

  7. Jimbo says:

    They’re too dangerous to be kept in England, but not too dangerous to be situated a few miles from the most densely populated part of Scotland.

  8. TYRAN says:

    Interestingly nothing yet with regards to Cameron and Trident/WMD on BT social side. This is problem for them.

  9. BillyBigbaws says:

    The primary target for North Korea’s nuclear weapons would obviously be the Republic of Ireland. Why? Because they are not protected by Trident and the British Army, and above all they are not ruled from Westminster.

    Be afraid, ROI!

  10. Norsewarrior says:

    “Indeed, even after the unimaginable carnage of the war the USSR felt able to confidently do away with millions more of its own people in a series of brutal purges”

    Actually the purges mainly happened before the war – waning by about 1938, although thousands were still sent to labour camps afterwards, including returning Russian prisoners of war.

    But your point is correct – the Soviets didn’t care about losing millions of their citizens during the war, as anyone who has read books about Stalingrad or Leningrad will fully comprehend.

  11. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Actually the purges mainly happened before the war”

    True enough, though they did continue after the war until Stalin’s death in 1953. And as you say, the core point in any event is that in the event of anything as insane as a nuclear conflict being undertaken at all, the deaths of millions of civilians would be regarded as an inevitable and endurable consequence.

  12. BillyBigbaws says:

    The thing that always makes me laugh the most about Norway is that they have vast wealth, a small army, and an actual LAND BORDER WITH RUSSIA (albeit a small one in an out of the way place). Yet somehow they are safe enough whereas we are told we need to be constantly armed to the teeth and must recreationally invade any country where a threat might potentially arise just to keep in shape.

    The theory of deterrence (never very robust in the first place) died conclusively with Iraq. WMD are supposed to stop other countries from invading you, yet we invaded them on the off-chance that they might actually HAVE WMD. We are the ones who turned the theory on it’s head, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

  13. Doug Daniel says:

    pmcrek: “Given Faslane’s safety record, the biggest threat to Scotland is an attack from the UK.”
    Either that or some terrorist cell realising the easiest way to nuke a country is with its own bombs.
    If we’re going to keep Trident, we could at least have John Smeaton guarding it…

  14. tartanfever says:

    Actually going to praise a BBC programme here – for those that want to explore a little further the trend towards the politics of fear which has been so dominant in the last few decades I would highly recommend the series, ‘The Power of Nightmares’ by the excellent fim maker Adam Curtis. 

    It’s a series of 3 x 1 hour programmes that look at two groups, the radical Islamists and the American neo cons from the 1950’s up to 2005 when the programmes were made. 

    They are available for free viewing on these excellent documentary sites along with other Curtis films.

    Hope it’s ok to plug these here Rev Stu.

  15. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    It’s always okay to plug Adam Curtis stuff.

  16. tartanfever says:

    Thanks Rev. Anyone that hasn’t seen them, I couldn’t recommend them enough – I promise they are worth the 3 hours time invested in watching them.

  17. BillyBigbaws says:

    Doug, the MoD commissioned a report into just that eventuality – I’ve got it someplace in my bookmarks.  They looked into the possible effects of a terrorist strike on one of the nuclear convoys that bring the (fully assembled) warheads up from Aldermaston to Coulport on our public roads.

    Unreassuringly, they found that “the consequences of such an incident are likely to be considerable loss of life and severe disruption to both the British people’s way of life and to the UK’s ability to function effectively as a sovereign state.”

    Those last ten words… oh man.  I’ve said it before, but the biggest nuclear threat the UK faces comes not from North Korea but from it’s own nuclear weapons.

  18. Erchie says:

    I think the Rev dismisses the threat of Giant Robot Dinosaurs at his peril, as this short informational song demonstrates 

    And Safari on iPad does some screwed up things with your WordPress text box

  19. Dcanmore says:

    But but Rev Stu, there are 900-mile robot dinosaurs from space with laser eyes already living among us. We have been conditioned for decades not to see them and that’s why we don’t have proper protection from Gerry Anderson’s proposed moonbase who tried to warn us in the 1970s … it’s all going to end badly, I can feel it in my left knee. 😉
    North Korea one day, somebody else the next day. In fact NK may have a huge military might but it’s all manpower with equipment that’s 30 years out of date at best. The world’s biggest defence budgets are running out of boogey men to justify their expenditure so the only thing left is to strike fear into the electorate to keep the government cash flowing, and secondary in the UK is to keep Scotland in the union, for oil cash, to spend on Trident and aircraft carriers.
    The latest Air Forces Monthly has a couple of pages dedicated to what an independent Scottish Airforce would look like. Unfortunately the writer has been lazy and took word for word the ‘findings’ of Chairchoob’s Scottish Affairs Select Committee’s totally unbiased conclusions of how Scotland wouldn’t be able to look after its own airspace effectively. Essentially the writer says that Scotland could probably afford a couple of second-hand Orion P3s with about 18 Hawks (from UK share), and that’s about it. No fast jet capability apparently as we couldn’t afford those speedy interceptors. Of course the writer conveniently (or couldn’t be bothered more likely) that Scotland would have a share of UK fast jets too (about 20 Typhoons and Tornados), or even lease fast jets for five years at a time, but hey-ho why bother if the answers are already provided for you.

  20. MajorBloodnok says:

    Regarding Iraq – if they’d had WMDs then they probably wouldn’t have been invaded, but as they were just pretending to have WMD’s but didn’t have any, then they were fair game.
    Of course, this presupposes that the US and the UK knew that they didn’t actually have WMD before they attacked Iraq (on the pretext that Saddam had WMD on a 45 minute fuse) …. er….

  21. Albert Herring says:

    We would never have invaded Iraq if we had the slightest suspicion they actually had WMDs.

  22. David Lee says:

    How about the fact that, in the case of a war with the USA, Trident would be useless as we rely on American satellites to do our targeting for us?

  23. ayemachrihanish says:

    So Dave, the point you were making yesterday is that if North Korea fire a long range nuke at Scotland – a target 10,000+ miles away – all the other countries in the path of its trajectory will simply sit back and say – don’t worry we ‘all’ know that one’s heading for Scotland so relax – obviously those UK MOD guys will sort it out! Those better together guys have a Global reputation for having their finger on the button – so relax, back to bed, Britain’s got Trident!!         

  24. dmw42 says:

    I could be wrong here but, every year NK seem to manufacture a crisis to avert the populace’s attention when food and fuel stocks run low.
    I’m not wrong when, at every opportunity, Tories and Labour divert attention from tax increases and welfare cuts.
    So, win, win for Call me Dave then. He’s got everyone in the UK talking about something other than welfare and tax reforms and has, at the same time, been able to posture on the world stage. 

  25. crisiscult says:

    anyone ever seen the New Zealand film crew interviewing average Americans about who America should invade next? I’m not having a go at average Americans; their form of democracy similar to ours – encourage or keep the population in fear and ignorance.

  26. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    Any truth in the rumour the Pandas are making WMD’s?

  27. Galen10 says:

    A useful antidote to unionist scaremongering and disinformation about the defence and security of an independent Scotland is simply to refer them to countries such as Denmark, Norway, Finland etc. All are of similar size and population, and yet…. guess what… they all somehow manage to have air forces with fast jets, naval forces which (unlike the Royal Navy) would be able to stop the Russians parking offshore with impunity whilst they dispatched a frigate from hundreds of miles away etc., etc.
    Scotland will, as many people have already pointed out, be able to spend significantly LESS than she currently contributes to the bloated UK defence budget, and yet STILL outspend her Nordic neighbours. Short term this would provide more than enough to provide adequate force structure AND make up for any opportunity costs of splitting forces from the UK, establishing training & infrastructure etc. Initially we may need to rely on whatever naval vessels we “inherit” as part of the indy settlement, but given the huge EEZ Scotland has, and the oil/fisheries protection angle, there is plenty of scope to design & build naval vessels in Scottish yards, as the Danes do for their navy.

  28. Macart says:

    Don’t know if I’d take on those pandas, they look a bit hard. 😉

  29. GH Graham says:

    Of the 190 or so countries in the world, the vast majority have no nuclear weapons. Yet Cameron is suggesting that North Korea would not attack Scotland with a long range missile, so long as we retained Trident.
    So using his logic, it is more likely that Columbia, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Tasmania would be attacked because they didn’t. Surely then we shoudl be encouraging as many countries as possible to buy some from Washington to protect themselves from Fuk Yoo-Sune or whatever he is called.
    But that would be pointless wouldn’t it? After all, WMD didn’t protect Iraq from being invaded by er …. Britain !

  30. Jiggsbro says:

    Ant and Dec are to front a new BBC show where members of the public come on and tell their stories of poverty and hardship to a panel of Unionist MPs, who then do nothing about them. It’s called “Britain’s Got Trident”.

  31. Dcanmore says:

    @tartanfever …
    The Power of Nightmares is amazing, should be taught in schools. Apparently the programme was shown at a TV festival in Canada and all the American head of networks watched it then concluded they wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole. It never got shown in North America, but of course we now have YouTube and it has been an eye opener for many Americans who wish to think differently to the usual spoon fed mass media rubbish. Adam Curtice’s spots on Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe are also highly recommended. Is there any chance we could swap Curtice’s on BBC Scotchland?
    @ronald …
    Come to think of it the panda’s are Chinese nationals! So maybe they are tasked with some distraction rather than mating? Makes you wonder what else arrived in those crates. An independent Scotland couldn’t defend itself from such deviousness 🙂

  32. In terms the utter pointlessness of Trident, this document sets out clearly the status of the UK’s ‘independent nuclear deterrent’, showing that there is nothing ‘independent’ about it. In reality it is merely leased from the US and would be almost useless as a weapon without US approval in its use.
    “The high accuracy of the Trident D5 missile depends on the submarine’s position being precisely determined. This is achieved using two systems: GPS, which relies on satellites, and the Electrostatically Supported Giro Navigation System (ESGN), which uses gyroscopes. In both cases UK Trident submarines uses the same US system as the US Navy submarines. The USA has the ability to deny access to GPS at any time, rendering that form of navigation and targeting useless if the UK were to launch without US approval. ”
    It seems that the UK is doing no more than pay money to the US to be it’s very minor sidekick. A big boy’s toy that cannot even be fired without adult supervision.

  33. Dcanmore says:

    @Galen10 …
    Absolutely! That is why I was so disappointed by that article in AF Monthly because they are usually very good in analysing air forces around the world and give indepth reports on the outstanding and capable work of air forces from smaller countries such as Norway, Denmark, Finland, Austria, Czech Republic etc. But a future Scottish force will somehow be weak, incapable and insignificant despite a projected increase in spending (which also wasn’t mentioned in the article).

  34. Tris says:

    The nuclear weapons are the UK’s entrance ticket to the table around which sit the big boys.
    Without nuclear Mr Cameron and whoever comes after him would just be another small country leader.
    They wouldn’t be able to engage in high level talks with the US president, and above all that seems to be what British leaders have craved over the years.
    The weapons, apart from this ‘entrance’ aspect are utterly useless, and cannot be used without America’s express permission and the passing on of codes, which, unlike France, the UK does not have.
    When the Americans were doing a stock check of their nuclear capability recently, they counted Britain’s weapons as a part of their own.
    That’s how independent they are.
    This is an interesting set of Youtube videos about Windscale which shows the extent to which the UK (under Clement Atlee) went, and the incredible amount of money they wasted, so that they wouldn’t be humiliated into being “just another country”.
    They lied about Windscale; they said that it was there to provide us with cheap electricity, and they spent our Marshall Plan money (which according to Niall Ferguson was a far greater sum than German got to rebuilt the country) on keeping up with the Joneses.
    And we let them, because they didn’t let us know.
    This is worth an hour of your time:


  35. The Cat says:

    By way of an example, not as a prescription:
    Prospectus for Danish armed forces
    25,000 personnel
    7 Frigates
    57 Tanks
    45 F16 jets
    etc etc
    All for less than what we currently pay for.

  36. Albalha says:

    Thanks for the link hadn’t seen it, are you familiar with ‘inverted totalitariansim’, if not here are a couple of links.

  37. GH Graham says:

    Remember, Scots are canny, sophisticated, entreprenuerial creatures & have proven themselves by elevating to roles of significant influence, power & authority; their ancestral legacy is widespread: Forbes Publishing, Carnegie’s US Steel conglomerate, the Murdoch Empire, Lipton’s Tea Trading Empire, etc ..
    However, according to Alistair Darling when it comes to governing ourselves, we are too stupid & have insufficient resources to make an independent economic model actually work.
    Good to know that Brit lovers like Darling, Chairchoob, Cameron etc are only trying to protect us from our low levels of self confidence & to minimize the effects of our low intelectual capacity.

  38. BillyBigbaws says:

    I agree MajorBloodnok and AlbertHerring, it’s unlikely that Iraq would’ve been invaded if we really thought they did have nukes.  Just pointing out the fact that we discredited the theory of deterrence through our own actions.

    I doubt Iraq would’ve been invaded if we hadn’t been able to starve them for ten years beforehand through the UN sanctions regime either – which is probably why both Iran and North Korea get extremely antsy about similar sanctions regimes being placed on them. 

    We can’t expect them to be relaxed about getting softened up for a hit when they already know they are on our enemies’ list.

  39. Luigi says:

    The UK cannot afford a replacement for Trident. However, to scrap the nukes would be politically difficult for the Tories. Unless of course Scotland becomes independent, then its not their fault. Mmm!

  40. crisiscult says:

    Thanks Albalha. Very interesting – haven’t watched the video yet though. There’s a name for everything these days! Sadly, I’m not sure it’s an exclusively American problem. I’m constantly amazed by the number of ‘educated’ people, especially 20 somethings, who take a reasonably contented position in their ignorance about the outside world – along the lines of, well, it’s not something I need to know about.
    Connected to this is the willingness to criticise one’s government on internal matters but when it comes to ‘them over there’ there’s a reluctance because of course we all know that Iranians are all religious nutters, North Koreans are living in holes in the ground, and Russians are all criminals. That’s why we have to stand together, that’s why we are better together. It’s a scary world out there folks. I tell my wife the same thing when I beat her and tell her to do the washing up and bring my beer. We’re better together love. It could be much worse out there in the world without me. I give her a few quid a week to keep her quiet and make sure she says thank you. (eh, this is supposed to be a metaphor for anyone thinking of reporting me to the police!)

  41. Robert Louis says:

    Well done RevStu, on a fine article.  Not one single Scottish ‘journalist’ has bothered to explain the facts of trident as clearly and lucidly as you have.
    In my opinion, keeping nuclear missiles on the river clyde is possibly one of the riskiest things any country could ever choose to do.  There have been multiple and repeated major failures in both security and safety since the base opened.  The simple fact is, these nuclear warheads and transporting them on public roads to and from Scotland, is the very biggest risk to Scotland.

  42. Desimond says:

    Quote Nazis….Best rock band name EVER!

  43. Desimond says:

    Its a strange NIMBY dilemma for the UK sans Alba Government…they want Nuclear weapons ( and all the cosy defence directorships and arms junkets (yes im looking at you Jim “Eastwood under nuclear threat” Murphy)) but they wont want them in Plymouth. Could Jersey or Isle of Man handle some “investment” or could the Scilly Isles live up to its name as a Nuclear Sub HQ?

  44. Albalha says:

    I’m in no doubt UKPLC is well on its way to embracing the IT model as described by Sheldon Wolin, interesting so are many people in the countries we ‘fear’. People who’ve been on the receiving end of the rhetoric see it for what it is.
    Interesting about Wolin he’s a contemporary of Chomsky but, as far as I know, nothing like as well known, even in the USA.

  45. Dcanmore says:

    And another thing … never mind Trident, those old POLARIS subs are still laid up rotting away at Rosyth for the past 20 years! So not only is Scotland a convenient place for nuclear arms storage, it’s also useful for nuclear dumping as well, out of sight out of mind, they can send those back to Portsmouth too. I’m sure that the Galloway Hills are still being eyed up as possible future storage of nuclear waste as was envisioned in the 1980s.

  46. MajorBloodnok says:

    Rev Stu wrote: “But if North Korea ever DID nuke us, we’d feel stupid.”
    I wonder if the Labour frontbench feel like they’ve been nuked by North Korea every Thursday.

  47. Robert Kerr says:

    I have asked this before but never got an answer.
    Is it possible for the RN Trident force to launch a strike against a target in the US? Yes/No please. I won’t hold my breath.
    The launch position and target positions need to be known, the warhead arming codes need to be available, the launch authorisation needs to be available and the guidance profile needs to be programmed in. This latter is not talked about but corrects for inhomogenieties in the Earth’s gravitational field. Real rocket science. 
    The UK has no independent nuclear capability ! Prove me wrong !

  48. Erchie says:

    The chap here on The Register talking about dealing with the North Koreans, the mentality of them believing their own propaganda and not realising that they are not a superpower (sounds familiar)

    Anyway, in passing he mentions reports that Kim Jong Un’s position is not secure, he nearly had a coup a couple of weeks back. If that is true, that would explain the sabre rattling.

  49. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Is it possible for the RN Trident force to launch a strike against a target in the US? Yes/No please. I won’t hold my breath.”

    I’m no sort of expert, but I suspect it would probably be possible to hit SOMETHING in the US, just not with any level of accuracy, for the reasons mentioned previously – the US controlling the GPS. But the US is a pretty big place, it’d surely be hard to miss it completely.

  50. Barontorc says:

    Is there any other banana skin lying about out there that Cameron hasn’t stepped on?
    The guy is an absolute flop when it comes to public relations, never mind Scottish PR and it’s only getting better and better.
    It would be reminiscent of the Mouse that Roared, only except Peter Sellers had a bit more gumption than DC.
    I’ll never forget nor forgive his denunciation of Scotland for freeing El Megrahi as he basked in the super-glory of the White House Lawn, He’s a jumped up fawning git!

  51. Juteman says:

    I wonder what Cameron really thinks. Does he actually think he is leader of a world super-power, or does he know that’s a load of bollocks?

  52. Bill_T says:

    To answer the “Could the UK attack the US” question, simply no it coudn’t. The Trident missile system is a US system and they hold the launch codes. Permission to launch must be sought from the them. The UK only provide the nuclear warheads and of course, the launch platform. The missile system itself is a fire and forget, self-guiding type that actually utilises visual positioning cues not GPS.

  53. Archdeaconess Hermione says:

    Er, how can there be only “500” jobs associated with Trident, when there are 4 subs with a complement of 135 each?
    And each boat has two crews, port and starboard – so 270 heads per boat for a total of 1080.
    How many jobs are, in addition, shore-based?

    How come the Navy’s own website says that 6500 people are employed on the site?
    How come the mission of 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group RM is
    “to provide military support to undertake final denial of access to nuclear weapons in addition to supporting the multi-agency force that protects nuclear weapons convoys.”
    43 Cdo is “over 500 strong”, so in addition to the 1080 sub crew,  then we’re at least around 1600 people who are directly tasked on Trident and nothing else. Aren’t we?
    So how can your “fact” of “500” be true? The answer is that it can’t. Somebody misinterpreted the question and/or the answer.
    The non-Trident activities at Faslane are trivially small – 240 on the minesweepers, maybe a couple of hundred others ashore. All the rest of the 6500 is Trident-related.

  54. Adam Davidson says:

    These North Koreans are absolutely crazy. They are so focused on their status in the world they are willing to spend billions on nuclear weapons while vast numbers of their own people live in poverty. It’s a shame their people don’t wake up and do something about it. Mind you, the general population probably don’t realise just how much is wasted as the media never report the true situation. It must be hard living in a country were generation after generation votes for one type of government but get another…..

  55. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Er, how can there be only “500? jobs associated with Trident, when there are 4 subs with a complement of 135 each?”

    If you’d bothered to read the piece and click on the links explaining the assertion, you’d know the answer to that question.

  56. scottish_skier says:

    Doesn’t really matter how many jobs trident supports. Scottish public don’t wish nuclear weapons on Scottish soil ergo they should not be there. That’s democracy. People working with the subs read the news so are aware they are not wanted and have accepted roles knowing that at some point the bases may close or be moved. If they are not aware of this, it’s pretty scary that they are working with nuclear/nuclear armed subs.

    In any event, shifting the base to somewhere in England does not end the jobs, just move them. If the rUK has no plan for shifting the subs in the event of independence and trident must be ended as a result, then Westminster is to blame for a lack of forward planning. It’s not as if the referendum is a secret. Likewise, the Tories were saying back in 1979 a devolved parliament would lead to independence. Given the way things went in 1997 and onwards, you’d have thought a back up plan would be in place surely. If not, then that’s pure incompetence. Westminster completely to blame for any job losses.

  57. tartanfever says:

    Lordy Lord, give us strength – Hermione, are you just grabbing figures out of nowhere ?
    We’re talking about jobs directed related to Trident – not everyone on a sub is involved with Trident, you need other specialists – radar operators, engineers and so on. While the subs will go with Trident a new Scottish navy will require seamen to crew our new vessels. 
    Really can’t be bothered arguing the rest with you… someone else can take over. 

  58. muttley79 says:

    Er, how can there be only “500? jobs associated with Trident, when there are 4 subs with a complement of 135 each?
    Ask the MoD as it was from their own figures.

  59. Dcanmore says:

    @Archy Hermoine…
    The jobs total that is argued over are civilian jobs in the locale (ie Helensburgh), which is 500-odd. The rest are Royal Naval personnel not connected to local communities (ie they live on base until they are shipped out.

  60. Galen10 says:

    @ Hermione
    The boat crew numbers are irrelevant, because scrapping Trident wouldn’t necessarily mean fewer submariners or naval personnel; indeed scrapping it would arguably free up resources for considerably more than it lost. There has always been a tension in the UK armed forces between those who saw the independent nuclear deterrent as an expensive folly who would have preferred the resources spent on conventional forces and improving procurement and/or conditions for personnel, and those who fully “bought in” to having the Rolls Royce system at any price. Of course having the latter meant being over-reliant on the USA due to the prohibitive costs of going it alone as the French found to their cost.
    Any reduction in jobs on the Clyde, or indeed elsewhere in the “defence establishment” will of course be more than offset by the opportunity savings available to an independent Scotland in defence expenditure. It is beyond any reasonable doubt that Scotland can spend significantly MORE than e.g. Norway or Denmark, and still spend significantly LESS than it currently contributes to the ridiculously bloated UK defence expenditure. Indeed it is more likely that post independence, Scotland would decide to REDUCE defence expenditure to levels similar to those in Norway and Denmark, and we would be better defended than we are now given the abject failure of any recent UK government to carry out responsible strategic defence reviews.
    Thus we have the spectacle of the RN having to send a frigate from Portsmouth to shoo the Russian Navy out of the Moray Firth, the debacle of disproportionate defence cuts in Scotland, and the lies told about the numbers from Germany who would be redeployed to Scotland. Better together? I think not!

  61. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Perhaps you should ask the Ministry of Defence. They supplied the figure.
    Are you perhaps confusing nuclear powered submarines with nuclear armed ones? Or are you confusing the ordinary joe sailor who mans and sails  them both with the very few who actually are involved in the nuclear armed bit of the exercise.  

  62. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    The populations of Helensburgh, Inverclyde, Paisley, Glasgow etc are now fulfilling the same function as the Scottish line regiments in WW1
    They are entirely expendable. After all the Government has recently said that this abomination is too dangerous to the civilian population to be sited on the South coast of England.
    Do you live on the south coast of England by any chance, Hermione? 

  63. CameronB says:

    Here is a film by Scott Noble, which I think is strongly influenced by “The Power of Nightmares”. It even uses a few clips from Curtice’s work, to produce what I felt was a very thought provoking two hours investigating the value the state places on human life. Although there is an obvious American focus, I think the film covers a lot of the topics of discussion here, over the last couple of months. It might even open a few eyes to those not already aware of FUD, and how it got scientific.
    I should warn that some might consider some of the material to be shocking, as Scott is not constrained by what the BBC deems acceptable information for the public to be made aware of. Freedom of speech also carries a lot more weight in the USA. Not that I am suggesting there in no value to Curtice’s work, I am simply acknowledging the environment in which Curtice produced his films. Sorry I couldn’t find a link to “Human Resources” in one peace, so its a nine parter I’m afraid.


  64. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    ronald alexander mcdonald says:
    5 April, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Any truth in the rumour the Pandas are making WMD’s?

    Steady there,

  65. Arbroath1320 says:

    Nice to see that Beijing and Moscow are MORE at risk from a North Korean missile falling on them than we are in Scotland. Of course the fact that we are used by Cameron as a repository for HIS WMD’s just ensures that Kim Jong-un has Scotland in his sights for the FUTURE! Thanks for that Dave, ya BAMPOT!

  66. Les Wilson says:

    You fogot one tiny thing that a Uk Nuke system does do, as it is now and proposed, it makes US a target! ie Glasgow/ west of Scotland, at the very least, NOT Portsmouth!
    Rather important to US!

  67. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    It is useful to have look at the facts.
    Cameron talks of “12,000 defence related” jobs in Scotland. A population share would be 25,000 to 30,000.
    Defence force numbers in Scotland today is the same as the defence force of Trinidad and Tobago.
    SNP policy is to treble that to be on a par with Denmark and Norway.
    Norway has a mixed navy, many of them assault vessels, of 70 ships,all built in Norway. That’s the sort of useful defence industry an independent Scotland will have

  68. Archdeaconess Hermione says:

    Rev. Stuart Campbell says:
    5 April, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    “Er, how can there be only “500? jobs associated with Trident, when there are 4 subs with a complement of 135 each?”
    If you’d bothered to read the piece and click on the links explaining the assertion, you’d know the answer to that question.”
    Oh I read those. Years ago.
    But ff you’d bothered to read my piece and clink on the link explaining the assertion, checked on my facts and done a bit of arithmetic, you’d know that that answer has to be a mistake or misinterpreted.
    Now, as suggested above, perhaps the rather small 500-ish number refers only to those personnel such as the actual missile ratings and officers, the Captains and XOs, and Coulport personnel.
    But that doesn’t the help the SNP case does it? If Trident goes, all of it goes: all 4 subs, all 1080 crew, all the support people ashore, 43 Cdo and so on and on. A Faslane with no Trident – just 7 Minesweepers and some training units – would have less than 1000 people.
    So the job losses just on the site would amount to over 5000, which would no doubt multiply up to ~10000 when the external impact is reckoned in.
    A high price to pay for the SNP’s squeamish, selfish and pusillanimous “morals”.

  69. ianbrotherhood says:

    sorry…’Archdeaconess Hermione’ –
    Did you spend four hours on that?…

  70. Morag says:

    Trident.  One hell of an expensive job creation programme.

    We could probably keep every one of these people on a pension for the rest of their lives with the money saved by getting rid of it.

    Why should this one employment sector be protected from the realities of the early 21st century, and at such astronomical cost?  Should we be throwing that sort of money around to keep other people in a job?  Maybe the now-unemployed population of Armadale should have had access to similar largesse.

  71. Jiggsbro says:

    So the job losses just on the site would amount to over 5000, which would no doubt multiply up to ~10000 when the external impact is reckoned in.
    10,000 is only the start. It could be 20,000 if you doubled it and over 99,999 if you then multiplied it by five. That’s nearly a quarter of million jobs lost – half a million if you assume every job is two jobs – all to appease those idiot SNP voters who can’t see the benefits of WMDs that keep nearly a million Scots in work. And those million workers each keep another four or five Scots in deep-fried porridge. Every man, woman and child in Scotland depends for their income either directly or indirectly on the ability of the UK to disintegrate other men, women and children and it is folly to throw the entire nation on the scrapheap just to avoid spending obscene amounts of money on obscene weapons. Thank goodness you’re here to provide the voice of sanity.

  72. douglas clark says:

    Archdeaconess Hermione says:
    A high price to pay for the SNP’s squeamish, selfish and pusillanimous “morals”.
    You haven’t got any.
    You must be a Tory.

  73. ianbrotherhood says:

    @Morag & Jiggsbro-
    She’ll be another four hours trying to formulate a response.

  74. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Oh I read those. Years ago.”

    Clearly you didn’t, as you still don’t understand the figure.

  75. Archdeaconess Hermione says:

    Oddly, I can’t seem to find the actual MOD FOI release with this figure of “520” jobs. And all the resulting press releases (e.g. CND) link to other press stories, not the original.
    Anyway, I got enough. The figure is 520 CIVILIAN jobs DIRECTLY dependent on Trident.
    Unsurprisingly, since most of the folks involved will wear dark blue suits – the 1080 sub crew, the 500+ in 43 Cdo, the command structure, the training simulator organisation, Coulport staff, support and so on. A minimum confirmed number of 1600, which fairly obviously looks like it actually has to cover the bulk of 6500, since 7 minesweepers do not amount to much.
    So what’s the story? These jobs don’t count to the SNP because they are not civilian jobs? These people don’t live in the area and spend money there?
    Funny somebody mentioned “job creation schemes”. Because that’s exactly what the SNP propose – a uniformed job creation scheme which doesn’t buy an effective defence or deterrent of any sort, but just pays people to play soldier or sailor.
    “Join the Scottish Navy and see the Clyde.”

  76. crisiscult says:

    Jiggsbro says: 5 April, 2013 at 9:14 pm So the job losses just on the site would amount to over 5000, which would no doubt multiply up to ~10000 when the external impact is reckoned in. 10,000 is only the start. It could be 20,000 if you doubled it and over 99,999 if you then multiplied it by five. That’s nearly a quarter of million jobs lost – half a million if you assume every job is two jobs – all to appease those idiot SNP voters who can’t see the benefits of WMDs that keep nearly a million Scots in work. And those million workers each keep another four or five Scots in deep-fried porridge. Every man, woman and child in Scotland depends for their income either directly or indirectly on the ability of the UK to disintegrate other men, women and children and it is folly to throw the entire nation on the scrapheap just to avoid spending obscene amounts of money on obscene weapons. Thank goodness you’re here to provide the voice of sanity.
    That post really cheered me up; laughed my ass off (LMAO?)well, until I realised I’ll become unemployed in the maelstrom. Sh1t.
    Rev. Stuart Campbell says: 5 April, 2013 at 9:24 pm “Oh I read those. Years ago.” Clearly you didn’t, as you still don’t understand the figure.
    Possibly he/she/it did. Anything I read more than a few minutes ago becomes like a half remembered dream and anything more than a year ago, a David Lynch scene. He/She/It has probably been on the same medication as me.  

  77. douglas clark says:

    Archdeaconess Hermione,

    What a pretenious load of drek that is.

    The story, you stupid prat, is that the Scottish Navy will be based at Faslane, so any ‘losses’ through not pretending that we would kill Muslims and others, via nuclear weapons, will be more than made up for with jobs that are meaningful to Scotland.

    Which does not involve being a bitch to POTUS.
    David Cameron has that role covered.

    Glad to help. Try to wake up from your daytime sleep before posting.

    You know it makes sense.

  78. Morag says:

    Are all the armed forces of all other countries of a similar size to Scotland just “paying people to play soldiers and sailors” without providing any defence function, and never moving beyond their immediate home territory?

    Maybe Hermione should tell them.

  79. ianbrotherhood says:

    Apologies for suggesting that you wouldn’t respond swiftly.
    Now that you have, perhaps you’ll consider that an ‘effective defence or deterrent of any sort’ would be to stop participating in the illegal invasion of other nations?
    Isn’t that what the SNP (and all other parties present on the Yes platform) have been saying consistently for years?

  80. CameronB says:

    @ douglas clark
    I see you like obscure Australian SF. Nothing more, just an observation.
    I see HerMoany is conflating pragmatic short-term-ism with moral discipline and correctness. Nothing more, just a damning indictment.

  81. Archdeaconess Hermione says:

    Morag says:
    5 April, 2013 at 9:42 pm
    Are all the armed forces of all other countries of a similar size to Scotland just “paying people to play soldiers and sailors”
    Many of them are. They either can’t go anywhere by themselves, or if taken by other people they sit there under rules of engagement which are so restrictive they are largely useless. See Afghanistan, history, recent, of.

  82. douglas clark says:

    ianbrotherhood @ 9:45pm
    That is a shit hot question.
    I expect our chum Hermione will ignore it or warp it or lie about it.
    I could be wrong, perhaps there is wisdom in the people that will not tell you their gender. Nor anything else about themselves. They have the right to remain silent.
    Without giving away, ahem, too many “secrets of the trade” it is interesting, is it not that we have at least two ‘incoming’?
    Just saying.

  83. Archdeaconess Hermione says:

    ianbrotherhood says:
    5 April, 2013 at 9:45 pm
    Apologies for suggesting that you wouldn’t respond swiftly.
    Now that you have, perhaps you’ll consider that an ‘effective defence or deterrent of any sort’ would be to stop participating in the illegal invasion”
    What “illegal invasions”? I haven’t heard of any. It takes a UN vote to declare something illegal, doesn’t it? When did this happen?

  84. CameronB says:

    @ A Hermione
    Trying to defend the Iraq invasion? You have now just lost the argument in black and white.
    Night Night.

  85. DMW42 says:

    Apologies for suggesting that you wouldn’t respond quickly. Now that you have….
    …and we’ve witnessed the stupidity of your response, maybe you should have taken another four hours to get your thoughts in order…

  86. Jiggsbro says:

    It takes a UN vote to declare something illegal, doesn’t it?
    I think you may have got that arse about face. But you knew that.

  87. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    She/He/it has completely lost it
    Let me first of all indicate that I believe nuclear arms to be completely immoral so I  don’t need any  other reason to oppose the use of them. 
    But I do recognise that other poorly informed people may not have reached that conclusion due to the continuous aggressive rubbish talked about them in our media. This is a component  in the half wit assault being mounted by the Better Together campaign. To win they have to keep on the board the percentage of our population incapable of seeing the 190 plus countries in this world that have no nuclear weapons.

  88. Caroline Corfield says:

    Actually it’s not so difficult to find I just googled UN vote on Iraq war and look what popped up in Wikipedia “On September 16, 2004 Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, speaking on the invasion, said, “I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN Charter. From our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal.”[1] 

  89. ianbrotherhood says:

    And here’s an ‘objective’ take on Kofi Annan’s judgement as presented by NBC:

  90. Archdeaconess Hermione says:

    anbrotherhood says:
    5 April, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Oh yes, we know all know that paragon of ethics and virtue, Kofi Annan, held his opinion.
    But “illegal” requires a UNSC / UNGA vote, doesn’t it?
    Category errors are embarrassing.

  91. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Hermione is creating a pretty pedestrian diversion. Ignore it.

  92. CameronB says:

    @ A Hermione
    Still trying to defend the Iraq invasion? Regardless of whether it was legal or not, do you think it was the correct thing to do?

  93. Adrian B says:

    “Join the Scottish Navy and see the Clyde.” – David Cameron on a jolly 4.4.13
    That’s exactly what I watched on the news last night – David Cameron taking a trip doon the watr, while he had the chance to do so. Danny Alexander and George Osborne can’t find the money to replace Trident. £11.5 billion in cuts to the police and armed forces in 2015/2016. That’s a lot more job cuts due.

  94. Bill McLean says:

    Pity that Hermione in her desperation to defend the indefensible nuclear abominations seems to have completely forgotten the probable hundreds of thousands of innocents who died in the illegal assault on Iraq – or is she just trolling? Even some Tories have a leavening of humanity!

  95. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “So what’s the story? These jobs don’t count to the SNP because they are not civilian jobs?”

    The “story” is that these people are currently employed by the Royal (British) Navy as Trident crew and will presumably have the option to continue to be, in whichever part of the remaining UK the submarines are moved to. Unless you know of a plan by the British government to abandon Trident in the event of Scottish independence, of course.

    Do I really have to lead you through this baby step by baby step? I was doing you the courtesy of assuming you weren’t a complete moron, but it looks like I may have been over-optimistic.

  96. crisiscult says:

    Archdeaconess Hermione says: 5 April, 2013 at 10:00 pm ianbrotherhood says: 5 April, 2013 at 9:45 pm @Hermione- Apologies for suggesting that you wouldn’t respond swiftly. Now that you have, perhaps you’ll consider that an ‘effective defence or deterrent of any sort’ would be to stop participating in the illegal invasion” What “illegal invasions”? I haven’t heard of any. It takes a UN vote to declare something illegal, doesn’t it? When did this happen?
    1st year law students know to cite sources. Primary source for this please?
    My understanding was that the UN Security Council could sanction use of force and that the main argument was whether resolution 678, 10 years prior, was valid. In the absence of such sanction, it wouldn’t be legal. So, when you say ‘UN’, do you mean GA or SC? 

  97. ianbrotherhood says:

    No, I won’t be drawn into it.
    I lost friends as a result of Blair/Bush and their Iraq adventure – they didn’t die on the battlefield as such. They’re friends I’ve lost because we couldn’t agree that such cynics and opportunists exist: they gave me up as a hopeless case who couldn’t accept the realities of this existence. And they did it because they are – truly – decent people who don’t like thinking ‘ill’ of anyone else.
    YOU are one of the ‘realities’ they couldn’t accept. They just could not process the idea that fellow countrymen (Reid, Ingram, Foulkes, Joyce etc) gain any station in life without merit, or that any of them would dare send their neighbours or compatriots’ loved ones into war without good reason:
    ‘Okay, they may have had to cut corners, but they’re basically decent and have our interests at heart.’
    That was a typical statement from some folk I’ve known and respected for decades.
    And that’s why I fell out with them. That’s why I lost them as friends.
    I don’t blame you Hermione, not if you’re just ‘doing a job’. Maybe you’ve got wee ones, bills to pay etc. It’s understandable. Up to a point.
    But you’re the one who’s left, at the end of the day, in those final moments before you fall asleep, knowing, facing, realising, that what you do is really, really vile. 
    I’ll never meet you, but there’s every chance that I’ll meet your frontline equivalent later this year, when the anti-Bedroom Tax protests really take off.
    And they will take off.  Big time. You know that.
    But you won’t be there, eh?
    No worries, H.  I’ll remember you as and when I have to i.e. when I get the chance to see those who want to deny us our fair decision. Unfortunately, I may never get to see them up close because they will, as per usual, run away when faced by anyone who believes in anything more than ‘fifty-quid cash-in-hand’.
    Yeah, I’ll remember you – I’ll remember you because of the utter disrespect you’ve shown to the decent folk who contribute to this place, and do so in good faith, trying to contribute to fruitful discussion.
    Go change your name again. Make yourself something ‘higher’. But you’ll still be ‘Hermione’ to me and a great many others, and we’ll always recognise your ‘voice’, however you disguise it.
    I was going to say ‘goodnight’, but my days of being gentlemanly are well-over, so – get it right round ye ‘Hermione’. And please convey likewise to whoever’s paying ye.

  98. Caroline Corfield says:

    Funny how Mr. Barrosso’s opinion carries more weight than Kofi Annan’s

  99. cirsium says:

    @ Bill MacLean – the Iraqi death toll is 1.4 million (5% of the population).

  100. DJ says:

    Don’t disagree with much of the article except I do think nuclear weapons helped keep the peace in Europe during the cold war. Not that I want them or can imagine any possible reason an Independent Scotland would require them, however it’s not a red line for me.
    I know I’m in the minority on this site, but I would happily rent Faslane to England for their nukes for a large fee for the financial benefit of Scotland. As Rev Stu says above – they will never be used!

  101. CameronB says:

    @ DJ
    Would that just not be enabling others to do what you can not stomach yourself?
    I am also dead against nuclear weapons, but bizarrely(?) I also think they have helped keep the peace(?). More recently though, in preventing NATO from invading Syria. That’s probably for another day though and possibly even another forum.

  102. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    I don’t believe there is any evidence that nuclear weapons kept the peace. What kept the peace was that  both US and USSR were frightened of each other and neither had an interest in having a war.
    I think any examination of the incidence of  non Hodgkins lymphoma, throat cancers, cancers of the oesophagus and leukaemia around the Holy Loch area and around Coulport/Faslane should give serious pause for thought

  103. Morag says:

    DJ, a big concern as regards your plan to rent out Faslane to house England’s nukes is that this would necessitate the continuation of the road convoys that pass through our towns and villages regularly, carrying the warheads to England for servicing.  Stopping these convoys is as important as getting rid of the Coulport base.

  104. Morag says:

    Dave, the sort of epidemiological data you mention is routinely collected for surveillance purposes.  Repeated investigations of apparent “cancer clusters” identified in this manner have failed to reveal any connection to local nuclear installations.  And no, there is no grand conspiracy among the medical profession to cover this up.

  105. DJ says:

    Morag & Cameron B
    I respect your opinions, they’re just not mine. I’ll still be voting Yes in September 2014; we can respectively disagree in May 2016 at the first Scottish election.

  106. MB says:

    In principle I’m opposed to nuclear weapons; however, the sad fact that is that until there’s world peace (which will happen just about never…or maybe in a few hundred years) they aren’t going away any time soon, as you correctly pointed out. With regards to North Korea and the U.K., sure, at the moment these two countries are far apart geographically and the Korean missile range is currently limited; however, what about five years down the line? What about fifty? Defense policy has to think in those sorts of time spans. In fact, who knows which countries could experience military coups or fall to dictatorships in the future, especially on an over-populated planet with dwindling resources. It’s not logical, in a global sense, for generally peaceful and stable countries like Britain to give up arms, while rogue states such as North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan (semi-rogue) adopt them. That’s not a healthy balance. States that have nuclear weapons, like policemen, carry weapons, but hope to never use them, only to use them as a tool or threat to control and restore order. Besides, if Britain didn’t have nuclear weapons, the Americans would probably want to station some with us, similar to what they do in Germany, which would negate the whole point of disarmament. And the Americans would definitely be able to tell us what to do in terms of foreign policy.

  107. Morag says:

    Indeed, this is something we can disagree on.  However, I think it will be difficult to persuade a majority that it’s OK for WMDs to remain only 25 miles from Glasgow.  I also think that if everyone knew about the nuclear convoys, say if BBC Scotland or ITV did a big documentary about them and kept the issue in the public consciousness, there would be a universal outcry about the issue.

  108. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “however, what about five years down the line? What about fifty?”


    Sorry to be flippant, but as all your questions are addressed in the piece it seems fair to assume you didn’t bother to read it.

    Who are we to label anyone else a “rogue state” anyway? How many nations have North Korea, Iran or Pakistan illegally invaded in the last 60 years?

  109. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Don’t disagree with much of the article except I do think nuclear weapons helped keep the peace in Europe during the cold war.”

    I don’t disagree with that.

  110. CameronB says:

    Fine by me. Let’s get a Yes vote, then we can sort out the rest later. Apart from possibly a revising house for our parliament, as I do not know what will be possible to put together legally between 2014 and 2016.

  111. Bill says:

    Trident weapon delivery system is a shared Nato asset, we dont even have right to launch without Nato approval.

  112. john king says:

    I am sick to death of listening to the news about what north korea is going to do to us, are there not more important news stories out there?
    is someones cat not stuck up a tree somewhere?

  113. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    The only reason Iran and North Korea have provided themselves with nuclear weapons is that we have them.
    It’s basically the same argument about whether we should arm our police. If we do the criminals arm up as well.The fact that some criminals are already armed is not judged to be a good enough reason to routinely arm our police. I think the USA proves the general point on that.
    Similarly US and USSR had to arm themselves to the teeth in response to each other.
    It is impossible to morally justify the deployment of a nuclear weapon which cannot avoid killing millions of innocent people, even if you have been nuked first. Then again the deaths of innocent people didn’t seem to figure largely in the considerations about invading Iraq.
    The moral argument is a minefield however and difficult to sell to the public. It is entirely obvious to me that the US wants to and presumes to order the world and thinks it can only do so with the biggest stick. That might be true but does the rest of the world agree to be ordered? And don’t they all feel an inclination to get a big stick also?
    The easier argument which carries more weight with many people is why is little Scotland the aircraft carrier for nuclear weapons designed to protect other people thus making itself and its people the world’s number one target.
    The absolute fact is that Scotland is much safer without nuclear weapons.

  114. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    I had this letter published in the Herald yesterday which makes the points very well (if I say so myself)
    “David Cameron has some nerve coming to Scotland to scaremonger about 12,000 defence jobs. With about 9% of the UK population our appropriate share of government defence expenditure would give us over 25,000 defence jobs.
    But perhaps he will take the opportunity while he is up here to reassure the folk in the communities around our nuclear arms collection at Faslane/Coulport that the UK government will make sure they all get fitting funerals should any madman start a nuclear war. The people of Scotland deserve no less and are very noble indeed to accept becoming the world’s number one target by selflessly providing a nuclear shield for more important people. It is unimaginable that Scotland would ever consider attacking anyone else. Our nuclear weapons on the Clyde probably provide the only reason why anybody would want to attack Scotland.
    Perhaps as he crosses the Clyde somebody could point out to David Cameron that the Norwegian navy, for instance, has seventy ships, all built in Norway, and the surest guarantee for Scotland to have an appropriate defence industry is an independent Scotland. “

  115. Archdeaconess Hermione says:

    Rev Campbell:
    Baby steps? Ok – you’re claiming only 520 jobs go if Trident does. I’ve just proved to you that the 520 refers to civilian jobs. On top of that, there are 1080 sub crew, 500+ RM, and who knows how many else. That’s 2000+ jobs, the loss of any of which would be an economic loss to the Faslane area. OK?
    hard to find a “source” for something which does not exist. Wars are not “illegal” until the UN takes a vote and decides they are. (And in fact, I think that wars themselves cannot actually be “illegal”, although actions of governments and individuals within them can be. If you look back on it, neither the German attack on Poland nor Pearl Harbor were “illegal”, before or after the event.)
    Mr Brotherhood:
    Reading your long post simply points to a problem that YOU have, not I, your ex-friends or the normal members of society.
    Mr D Hill
    I see you are repeating the G Kerevan / Wikipedia delusion that the Norwegian Navy has “70” “ships”. Do you actually know the difference between a “ship” and a “wee boat”?
    You could also clarify in which part of Norway you think Ferrol, Spain is. Because that’s where the 5 Nansen-class frigates (which are actually their only real “ships”) were built.

  116. Jiggsbro says:

    5 Nansen-class frigates (which are actually their only real “ships”
    And 10 mine hunters/sweepers. And 6 submarines. And 6 Skjold coastal corvettes. And 3 support ships. And a training ship. And a royal yacht. And then all those ‘wee boats’, which are actually half-platoon fast assault craft. And a couple of dozen Coast Guard ships.
    So what makes a boat a ‘real ship’, other than argumental convenience?

  117. ianbrotherhood says:

    Twist it as you will – the Iraq was was illegal, and Blair lied to get us into it. There was no element of self-defence, ever, and no need for our involvement. End of. Period.
    (“If the Brits don’t want to go, that’s a workaround.” – Donald Rumsfeld) 
    Oh, and BTW, like everyone else I do have problems, aye, but dealing with your amateur trolling isn’t one of them.

  118. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Ok – you’re claiming only 520 jobs go if Trident does. I’ve just proved to you that the 520 refers to civilian jobs.”

    YOU proved that? And there was me thinking it was in the news article that I linked to in the post and referred you to repeatedly. Have some dignity and admit that you’ve just made a pig’s arse of this one, eh?

    We clearly DO need to do this in tiny baby steps, so: Faslane will NOT be closing in an independent Scotland. There will still be naval jobs there, which in turn will continue to support local jobs. The submariners will go with their submarines. In addition, we will have hundreds of millions of pounds every year with which to create new jobs. There is therefore NO reason for the expulsion of Trident to cost Scotland a single job.

  119. CameronB says:

    @ A Hermione
    Did my question not merit an answer? I’ll ask it again, in case you missed it. Do you think invading sovereign nations, without provocation, is the correct thing to do?

  120. MB says:

    “Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “however, what about five years down the line? What about fifty?”
    Sorry to be flippant, but as all your questions are addressed in the piece it seems fair to assume you didn’t bother to read it.
    Who are we to label anyone else a “rogue state” anyway? How many nations have North Korea, Iran or Pakistan illegally invaded in the last 60 years?”
    Of course I read the piece, but I don’t think that comparison is valid. You’re comparing something that’s clearly ludicrous with something that’s within the realm of reality. We tend to take peace for granted in Europe, but that’s not the case in the rest of the world, or even a few hundred miles away in the middle east or North Africa, for example. In terms of conflict, India and Pakistan have had several wars, Iraq invaded Iran and Kuwait, North Korea and South Korea are anything but rosie, Israel has had numerous wars, and just count the number of dictatorships and unstable countries in Africa and Asia (and until very recently South America). There’s nothing but conflict out there, and as I said I think it’s easy to take peace for granted at home. Hillary Clinton put it well recently, commenting on the Nobel Peace Prize for the EU:  
    “Certainly it’s quite remarkable to see how unified and peaceful Europe is in the 21st century and that did not happen by coincidence. It happened because of the very hard work and dedication of leaders and citizens across Europe”


  121. Jiggsbro says:

    You’re comparing something that’s clearly ludicrous
    It’s hyperbole. The point is, we have no idea what might be ludicrous or within the realms of possibility in 50 years time. If you’d told me 50 years ago that I could have a phone in my pocket, smaller than my wallet, that could take photographs and moving images, and play all the music I own, and play games, and allow me to access the largest research source in the world…I’d have dismissed that as ludicrous. It’s unlikely that we’ll see 900 mile-high robot space dinosaurs with lasers for eyes, but what is within the realm of possibility in the next 50 years is beyond the ability of most people to imagine. Which is the point.

  122. MB says:

    Which is why it makes sense to prepare for worst case scenarios. Anyway, nuclear weapons aren’t made up, they’re very real and non-proliferation is a serious issue – there are organizations and teams of people analyzing this stuff, people writing their PhDs etc. We can’t un-invent nuclear weapons – there’s a point of no return, unfortunately. However, we can plan 50 years in advance for a lot of things. We know that fossil fuels are running out, and that climate change is a serious threat, so  we can make moves to change our energy policy in today’s world, for example.

  123. Anon Sailor says:

    Not all the tubes are loaded when one boat is on patrol. Even less power than they realise.

  124. dennisanthonyallen says:

    if i vote yes for independance am i therefore voting to dismantle our neucular subs which would mean a vote for SNP i dont know if this is so i am aaain contact with a lot of teenagers and would like to give an informed answer to them where can i get pro independant flags window stickers or anything else to shw myposition to others cheers D A Allen

  125. Neil Ralley says:

    Did I hear someone mention “friendly fire”??

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