EDINBURGH, 18th April (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst - The United States will not stand by and watch the UK be unilaterally disarmed of its nuclear weapons if the people of Scotland vote for independence in an upcoming referendum, a retired senior British army officer has warned.
Scottish independence supporters, including the current Scottish Government, have promised to demand the immediate removal of Britain's entire nuclear submarine fleet based in western Scotland if they win a referendum on cessation from the UK, scheduled for September 18.
But a retired senior British military officer, Lt. Col. Stuart Crawford, has told RIA Novosti that the consequences of an independent Scotland banning the presence of Trident missiles on its territory would be serious US-led economic and diplomatic sanctions.
"I cannot see any circumstances where the Scottish Government would demand, or want to demand, the removal of Trident because the ramifications if they provoke the ire of the USA in terms of economic and diplomatic sanctions would be critical," Crawford told RIA Novosti.
Last year, a leaked UK Ministry of Defense plan revealed officials were considering making the Faslane nuclear submarine base "sovereign territory," effectively annexing part of Scotland, if independence is backed by voters in September.
The UK has military bases on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus with similar status.
Nick Harvey, a member of parliament and a former Armed Forces Minister, said he hoped a deal could be struck on retaining nuclear weapons in Scotland if the country becomes independent, but conceded that may come at a price for British taxpayers.
Speaking exclusively to RIA Novosti, he said "the cost of moving Trident would be gargantuan and finding an alternative would be almost impossible. If Scotland really did go independent there would simply have to be a deal of some sort."
Harvey agreed the US Government would be concerned if an independent Scotland insisted on removing the weapons, because Americans gain "considerable political cover from Britain being alongside them," while adding the removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland would make little difference in terms of US global military strategy.