Trident in Scotland offers a “permanent counterweight” to the nuclear threat, Britain’s defense procurement secretary said in response to Nicola Sturgeon’s disarmament calls.
Alec Shelbrooke, visiting naval personnel at His Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde – commonly known as Faslane – on Wednesday, said Britain’s nuclear deterrent posture was protecting European security.
His comments come in contrast to Scotland’s First Minister, who said in an interview with Channel 4 on Friday that “the whole world should move away from nuclear weapons”.
A nuclear threat has increased in recent months amid claims Russian President Vladimir Putin could use the weapons to escalate the attack on Ukraine.
Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Shelbrooke said he did not want to ‘pull’ himself into Ms Sturgeon’s remarks but said: ‘We have seen an increase in nuclear rhetoric from Moscow over the last week.
“I think it’s important that we take the air out of that rhetoric and try to calm everything down. But as we have seen over the decades, a permanent nuclear deterrent is a counterbalance.
“And when we’re dealing with international affairs, when we’re trying to pacify active military campaigns, having that ability for our adversaries, not knowing what our tactics would be but knowing we have the ability to strike back equally, is power a much safer world than if we just unilaterally disarm and leave that ability to our opponents.”
He added: “My approach is that I believe in the Union and the UK. What we have in Scotland is a strong nuclear deterrent standing up for our allies.
“NATO is a nuclear defense force, and the word is defensive. We are not an aggressive force, we are a deterrent.
“The UK plays a significant role in European security for all of our NATO allies and that is why the UK will always stand firm in doing everything I can to protect us all.”
Ms Sturgeon discussed her position on nuclear weapons in an independent Scotland. She told Channel 4: “It’s not up to me … to decide whether or not Trident was scrapped, that would be a UK Government decision.
“It would be for the Scottish governments to decide whether Trident is based in Scotland and my party’s position, the strong position, is that it should not be.”