Nuclear Brexit: opportunities out of chaos?

In an emessage today, Robert Green writes: “(O)ut of chaos can come opportunities! Maybe this is the shock needed to open up such possibilities?”

Robert Green 3As many readers will know, Rob is the first former British Navy Commander with nuclear weapons experience to have spoken out against nuclear weapons.

He was the UK Chair of the World Court Project, an international citizens’ network that persuaded the UN to ask the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the legal status of nuclear weapons (profile: International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) and now is co-chair of the Disarmament & Security Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. He comments:

“The Brexiteers’ dream of drawing even closer to the US is an illusion. My understanding is that the main US motive for allowing Britain to have its ‘special relationship’ has been for its most reliable ally to be inside Europe as its most influential vassal.

“Brexit has destroyed this; with a shrinking economy and the prospect of Scotland and Ulster leaving the UK to stay with Europe and be reunited with their Celtic cultural homelands, Trident renewal could well become unaffordable, both from a US strategic and British financial point of view.

trident submarine

“For a start, an independent Scotland will demand that the Faslane base for Trident be relocated to England (or Wales), where there is no feasible alternative location and would incur prohibitive expenditure. I attach a good oped on this from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which will help to educate US readers”.

Highlights summarised from the oped by Hugh Gusterson, professor of anthropology and international affairs at George Washington University:

“Those who voted for a “Brexit,” with the avowed goal of “making Britain great again,” may have set in motion a course of events that will result in Britain’s unilateral nuclear disarmament. For those who favor disarmament, this would be good. For those who hoped Britain’s departure from the European Union would restore its glory on the world stage, it presumably would not.

“The UK may no longer exist as a country within a few years. For 30 years, the Scottish National Party said that an independent Scotland would stay out of NATO. It narrowly reversed that position in 2012, but it remains adamantly opposed to the stationing of any nuclear weapons in Scotland.” That could be a problem since all of Britain’s nuclear weapons are stationed in Scotland. The Vanguard submarines are headquartered at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde at Faslane in Scotland, with warheads stored eight miles away at Coulport. There is no obvious alternative site for them in England. (For detailed information, click on the oped link)

“It is becoming evident that, in addition to all the negative consequences of Brexit opponents warned about, there will be additional unforeseen and unintended consequences that will only become clear over time. In a supreme irony, one of those consequences may be that the English nationalist vote strips Britain of its status as a nuclear power”.

As Robert Green says: “Out of chaos can come opportunities! Maybe this is the shock needed to open up such possibilities?




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