The now-28-country alliance that makes up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization might grandfather in a 29th prospect that is Scotland: one contingent rests upon Scotland receiving its long waited independence from the United Kingdom. Scheduled for a referendum in the fall of 2014 to vote on its legal separation from the UK, Scotland’s role in the international world has become a pivotal point of discussion among the Scots and the Scottish National Party (SNP- leading government party)-particularly, its status with various memberships and treaty organizations that the UK is currently a party to and as an inherited function, Scotland too. Of the organizations, the debate on automatic entry into the European Union and NATO are the most controversial.
The head of the SNP and First Minister, Alex Salmond has no qualms criticizing NATO’s intimate relationship to nuclear weapons as a first strike option. So much, that in the past, Salmond was completely against Scotland accession into NATO. However, as independence comes closer, SNP’s well-established opposition to NATO membership has softened, and SNP has even backed up NATO intervention (in Libya, for example). Whether this is because of a realization that Scotland needs to play catch-up to all other developed states in gaining respect in the international community to appear a strong sovereign state or the urgent need for a secured defense, one thing seems to be clear: Scotland will not be budging on their anti-nuclear stance and commitment to removing United Kingdom’s nuclear program, Trident, from its territory upon gaining independence.
Future Scottish-NATO relations will revolve around this nuclear issue. Will SNP’s oath for an anti-nuclear Scotland be a deal breaker for NATO membership? Most say no, and SNP’s defence spokesman, Angus Robertson believes that the two can work together, stating “it is time for Scotland to face up to the facts.” The “facts” being that NATO is a valuable source of protection and key source in international relations.
Lets hope that Scotland does not soften any further for international acceptance to the point that it will give up its anti-nuclear dedication in light of the dark reality of pro-nuclear preponderance in NATO, and vise-versa, that NATO does not deny membership solely because of Scotland’s stance. Scotland’s devotion to rid Trident from its territory is an outstanding example of commitment to a nuclear-free world.
A more in-depth discussion of Scottish-NATO relations can be found in the link below: