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Will Scotland be a member of NATO?

It is the intention of the current Scottish Government that Scotland will be a non-nuclear member of NATO. Following a vote for independence the Scottish Government will formally declare its intention to become a member of NATO. Given Scotland’s key strategic position in Europe, we expect Scotland to be welcomed as a valued partner.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Why would NATO want Scotland as a member?

Scotland is situated in a position of strategic importance, close to the Arctic channels of the High North and with the Atlantic Ocean to its west. An independent Scotland will therefore be a key partner in NATO’s air and naval policing arrangements for northern Europe, and it is in both Scotland’s and NATO’s interests for an independent Scotland to work closely with, and to be a member of, the alliance.

Comparable non-nuclear nations can and do make significant contributions to NATO operations and deploy capabilities that are proportionate but effective – for example Denmark has had a leading role in the delivery of anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa and both Norway and Denmark made significant contributions of air power to the operation in Libya.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would Scotland look to participate fully in NATO activities with the exception of being a nuclear power?

An independent Scotland will take its NATO membership seriously. The present Scottish Government’s policy is that this will involve committing resources and contributing to NATO’s collective defence activities and humanitarian relief missions. At all times, Scotland will work within the UN and NATO charters.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Is membership of NATO consistent with removing nuclear weapons from Scotland?

Yes. The Scottish Government’s opposition to the possession of nuclear weapons is entirely consistent with the position of most NATO member states. Only three NATO members are nuclearweapon states and 20 out of the 28 current member states neither possess nor host nuclear weapons.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would membership of the alliance result in NATO bases or activity being located in Scotland?

Scotland will seek to play a constructive role as a member of NATO and we intend that Scotland will participate in NATO exercises and training operations, as all members of the alliance do. There are no NATO bases in Scotland as part of the UK, so it is unlikely that there will be in an independent Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Why would an anti-nuclear Scotland wish to become a member of NATO as a nuclear alliance?

An independent Scotland working within NATO will be a positive contributor to international peace and security. This position would be similar to the majority of NATO member countries who neither possess nor host nuclear weapons.

NATO’s Strategic Concept states that the alliance is “resolved to seek a safer world and to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons” – an aim that the current Scottish Government shares.

Scotland’s membership of the alliance will bring significant benefits for defence and security co-operation within our region, and will demonstrate a clear commitment towards working in close, responsible and peaceful co-operation with Scotland’s neighbours and allies.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will NATO members with nuclear-armed vessels be allowed to enter Scottish waters or dock at Scottish ports?

It is our firm position that an independent Scotland should not host nuclear weapons and we would only join NATO on that basis.

While the presence of nuclear weapons on a particular vessel is never confirmed by any country, we would expect any visiting vessel to respect the rules that are laid down by the government of an independent Scotland.

While they are both strong advocates for nuclear disarmament, both Norway and Denmark allow NATO vessels to visit their ports without confirming or denying whether they carry nuclear weapons. We intend that Scotland will adopt a similar approach as Denmark and Norway in this respect.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would Scotland provide forces to NATO as part of a collective defence (Article 5) operation?

Yes, subject to our domestic approval arrangements. As a NATO member, Scotland will support collective defence operations (Article 5 operations), in accordance with the UN Charter, where a member of the alliance is the subject of an armed attack.

In order for NATO to invoke Article 5, each member state must be in agreement. It is for each member state to decide and agree what role they take in any military response. No member state is compelled to take part in such operations.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Could NATO membership commit Scotland to taking part in military operations that it did not agree with?

No. It is for each member state to decide and agree what role they take in any military operation.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will NATO membership make it more difficult to secure the removal of Trident?

The removal of Trident nuclear weapons from Scotland will require negotiation with Westminster and liaison with NATO. But the aim of the current Scottish Government is clear – to secure the speediest safe removal of Trident from Scotland and to join the 20 (of 28) countries who are members of NATO without either possessing or hosting nuclear weapons.

We believe that a non-nuclear independent Scotland operating within NATO will be preferable, to the UK, NATO, and our other neighbours and allies, to a non-nuclear Scotland outside of the alliance.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How long will it take to join NATO?

Following a vote for independence in 2014, Scotland will notify NATO of its intention to become a member of the alliance in order to begin negotiations for Scotland’s transition to becoming an independent member of the alliance.

It will be for NATO to confirm the detailed arrangements and timetable for Scotland’s transition towards membership as an independent country.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Have there been discussions with NATO about Scotland’s membership?

Yes. The Scottish Government has opened contact with NATO regarding an independent Scotland’s membership of the organisation.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.