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Brexit could result in Britain’s unilateral nuclear disarmament.

flag-UKNuclear Brexit  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists , 30 June 16, HUGH GUSTERSON Hugh Gusterson is a professor of anthropology and international affairs at George Washington University. His expertise is in nuclear culture, international security, and more

 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…..

Insofar as pundits have speculated about the international security implications of Brexit, they have pointed out that British diplomats will be so focused on renegotiating trade agreements with the rest of the world that they will devote fewer resources to the turmoil in the Middle East and simmering tension with Russia, and that Britain will therefore be a less reliable ally for the United States. (This partly explains why Russian President Vladimir Putin greeted Brexit with a grin.) They assume, though, that Britain will remain strongly committed to NATO.

One problem with this assumption is that the UK may no longer exist as a country within a few years. It looks likely that, if Brexit proceeds, Scotland will withdraw from the United Kingdom, and there is a possibility that Northern Ireland will follow suit……

In the Brexit referendum, every single district in Scotland voted to remain in the EU, and a decisive majority of Scots—62 percent—voted to stay. It now looks as if the only way they can remain in the EU is to secede from the United Kingdom and apply for EU membership as a separate nation. A poll taken after the Brexit vote found that 59 percent of Scots say they would now vote for independence from Great Britain. Nicola Sturgeon, the shrewd and charismatic leader of the Scottish National Party, has stated her interest in moving toward a second referendum on Scottish independence.

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. …..

A British parliamentary report in 2012, written in response to increasing concerns that Scotland might secede from the United Kingdom, concluded that finding a suitable base to replace Faslane and Coulport would be “highly problematic, very expensive, and fraught with political difficulties.” For one thing, it would take 10 to 20 years to construct a new base. And according to a 2014 study, doing so would cost English taxpayers about £3 billion (or some $4 billion at today’s exchange rate, almost certainly an underestimate)—on top of the £20 billion it will already cost to replace the four decaying nuclear submarines. This money will be particularly hard to find if British GDP declines sharply, as predicted, following disengagement from the European single market.

That is assuming a suitable new site could even be found, but the three sites that have been discussed in the media all have significant problems……..

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.

July 1, 2016 - Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war

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