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Anti-nuclear campaigners protest outside SNP HQ over proposed Nato U-turn

Demonstrators suggest Nato membership allows other nations "to commit mass murder on your behalf".

HMS Vanguard Royal Navy Trident missile submarine quality image
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Nuclear weapons protesters have staged a demonstration outside SNP headquarters over the party leadership’s proposal to drop their long-standing opposition to Nato.

Trident Ploughshares said the proposed U-turn, which would see any future independent Scotland remain within the nuclear-armed military alliance, is incompatible with the party's anti-nuclear stance.

SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson will ask delegates at the party conference in October to support the new pro-Nato stance, with the backing of First Minister Alex Salmond.

They face opposition from a group led by SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn, who has tabled an amendment urging the conference to maintain the policy "that Scotland should not remain a member of Nato" as it "continues to be a nuclear weapons-based alliance".

Trident Ploughshares fears the proposed U-turn signals "a slowly buckling resolve to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons", which will keep them on the Clyde for decades more.

A Trident Ploughshares spokeswoman suggested that if the SNP kept an independent Scotland in Nato they would be accepting that other members of the alliance were ready to use nuclear weapons "to commit mass murder on your behalf".

The deadline for amendments to Mr Robertson's pro-Nato resolution is Friday.

Mr Hepburn said: "I can confirm that I have submitted an amendment with a number of colleagues and organisations within the party, and I look forward to the SNP standing orders and agenda committee considering that amendment. Once it is on the final agenda, I look forward to the debate at the conference."

An SNP spokesman said if the amendment is accepted it will be published on the conference agenda around September 14.

SNP MSP John Finnie confirmed that he will be supporting Mr Hepburn's amendment.

He said: "The reality of the situation is that, as with the EU, the day after independence Scotland will remain a member of Nato. The amendment suggests that there should be a referendum on that position and the SNP's position in that referendum should be that we maintain our opposition to Nato as it is a nuclear first-strike force."

SNP MSPs Sandra White, Marco Biagi, Dave Thompson, Jean Urquhart and Gordon MacDonald are also understood to be backing the amendment.

The Trident Ploughshares protest took place outside the SNP's headquarters on Jackson's Entry, just off Edinburgh's Royal Mile, at 8.30am on Thursday.

An SNP spokesman said: "The SNP has a cast-iron commitment to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons. Given the continued presence of Trident nuclear weapons in Scotland - against the wishes of her Parliament and people - independence is the only constitutional option which makes this possible.

"SNP members have the democratic opportunity to make their views on Nato membership clear at the annual conference in October, where we expect to have an excellent debate on defence policy, including reaffirming the party's strong anti-nuclear stance."

The rally coincides with the 67th anniversary of the US nuclear bombing of Nagasaki during the Second World War. The blast, which took place on August 9, 1945, followed an attack on Hiroshima three days earlier. Around 130,000 died at Hiroshima and a further 70,000 at Nagasaki.

The United States had officially entered World War II after Imperial Japan launched a surprise air raid on the Hawaiin naval base Pearl Harbour on the morning of December 7, 1941, killing more than 2400. Japan followed the bombing by signing a new pact with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, agreeing an alliance against the United States.

The US nuclear bombings four years later forced the Japanese Empire to surrender and effectively ended World War II.

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