The long trailed, looming decision by the SNP to reverse its policy regarding NATO in favour of Scottish membership has deprived many a unionist of one of its last remaining sticks with which to beat the Nationalists. The disappointment is palpable and no more so in the weekend’s Scotland on Sunday where Salmond’s supposed ‘NATO and nukes dilemma’ was splashed across the front page.

The argument, from Professor Malcolm Chalmers(?), seems to be that NATO won’t let an independent Scotland join its club if Scotland cleared nuclear weapons from its military bases.

The main article, and the accompanying editorial, involve telling Scots that you can’t be free of nuclear weapons and be a member of NATO in the short to medium term in an independent Scotland, and trying to make it the SNP’s problem at the same time. One initial oddity of this positioning is that opposition to nuclear weapons and membership of NATO are solid, historic Labour policies, and if there was one party that should be motivated to find a solution here it would be Labour. A solution over and above ‘let’s just stay in the UK shall we’. Lord George Robertson, former MP for Hamilton South, was recently the NATO Secretary General after all. Couldn’t he be expected to find a solution to this supposed impasse in the interests of Scotland?

Anyway, the article is difficult to take too seriously for separate reasons.

Post independence, on the one side, we would have a centre-right Government keen to ensure that rUK’s place in the geopolitical game remains strong and that the ‘special relationship’ with America stays tight. Underpinning each of these objectives is the requirement to retain a permanent seat at the United Nations. In order to ensure this, rUK needs to be a nuclear power. On the other side we have Scotland, a new country whose citizens have historically been opposed to holding nuclear weapons and led by a centre-left party (or parties) that have no appetite for paying for or holding nuclear weapons within their budgets or borders.

rUK wants nuclear weapons, Scotland doesn’t. There is no problem here. There may be an issue surrounding the timing of the physical move of nuclear weapons from Scotland to rUK but the weapons will always be operable and available to NATO if the simply unimaginable becomes reality.

Furthermore, it is not in rUK’s, or the USA’s, or France’s, or Russia’s interests for Scotland to have control over nuclear weapons. The smaller that club is, the better. There are good reasons after all why the many countries across Europe that successfully researched such weapons never actually created any.

I have always believed it is inconceivable that England, Wales or Northern Ireland cannot have a base for nuclear weapons ready in a matter of years, if it isn’t ready now. If this is indeed true then it is a dereliction of duty on the part of Westminster to have kept such supposedly strategically important weapons in a nation that (1) might leave the UK, (2) has never wanted the weapons in the first place and (3) should have been covered by a back-up location via a disaster recovery contingency plan.

So why this is all Scotland’s problem is beyond me. Indeed, it sounds more like an opportunity. Scotland could command a large price for keeping Trident where it is, and that doesn’t sound like bad news for Alex Salmond or an argument against independence to me.

The alternative of course is to simply scrap Trident, a decision that the coalition baulked at during this Parliamentary term. There is simply no conceivable scenario when these bombs would be fired, no country or state in the world that would deserve such horrors to be rained down upon it. So why keep holding these weapons? If they have served their purpose strategically, and run out of options geographically, let’s just put the whole thing to bed and save ourselves billions that we can build schools with, no?

Well, if it wasn’t for the permanent seat at the UN and that sordid special relationship, we might just manage to do that. Again, it’s not Scotland that wants to cling onto a seat at the big boy’s table, so why are people making it an issue for the Scottish independence referendum?

Experts can be dug up to provide front page exclusives and national newspapers can wring their hands in their editorials, but imagining problems that don’t exist or turning opportunities into issues for partisan reasons is not going to get Scotland anywhere.