Monday, 3 Oct 2022

New nuclear bunker would need to be constructed if SNP kicked Trident programme out

Scotland: Malcolm Chalmers on possibility of nuclear bunker

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Prof Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute told how a contingency measures to construct bunkers across England include locations in the south west of England but stressed Trident and the warheads must be moved together in the event of Scotland voting independence, but he warned such a move could take decades.

Professor Chalmers explained how Devonport in Plymouth, despite it being a location earmarked by the Ministry of Defence as a possible option to house the UK’s Trident programme, is not suitable to store warheads.

He explained this is due to the vast populations that surround the immediate area and thus the south west location is not safe for storage.

The weapons expert went on to say as a result of not having any location in place that would be suitable for storage – Britain would have to construct a new set of nuclear warhead bunkers.

he added how one suggestion for a possible location, which he himself made to the British government, is the Fal Estuary near Falmouth.

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The nuclear weapons expert explained how the location is smart given the low population in the area and as a result, security can be tightly controlled.

But he warned how building a new a whole new facility is going to take “a decade or more” and simply cannot be done quickly.

He was also quick to dismiss the idea of moving one facility without the other, for instance: leaving nuclear warhead storage in Scotland and moving Trident out.

Professor Chalmers stressed this is down to the very high safety standards both facilities require and that would have to remain in place for both programmes. 

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He concluded: “My own view is that in the end it would be possible to relocate if the political will and money was there. But you couldn’t do it in less than a decade.”

His comments come as the SNP faced an internal divide over the timescale of removing Trident in an independent Scotland during at the party’s conference earlier this month.

A motion was lodged by SNP members from the party’s Glasgow Maryhill, Anniesland and Southside Branches to remove nuclear weapons from Scotland within three years of independence.

However, a counter amendment was filed by the Castle Douglas branch calling for a longer timescale.


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Despite the chaos at the conference, the SNP continues to pledge that it would ban nuclear weapons on Scottish soil if it became independent.

Despite the desires of the SNP, a spokesman for the UK government said they were strongly committed to maintaining the £5 billion Trident nuclear programme as a deterrent against nuclear threats to the UK and NATO allies. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has estimated the cost of this to be at £205 billion.

Meanwhile, Jackie Baillie, the Labour MSP who represents Dumbarton, said: “The SNP are happy to simply move Trident over the border without a thought for the jobs and the impact on the local economy.

The UK currently has around 195 warheads in an ocean-based fleet of Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson intends to push the UK’s stockpile up by 40 percent to “no more than 260 warheads”.

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