Indyref2 offers chance to scrap nuclear weapons - Lorna Slater

Saturday marked 77 years since US forces carried out the world's first nuclear strike on the people of Hiroshima. It was the single most destructive bomb ever dropped, killing over 100,000 people.

Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity
Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity

Only three days later the same horrific crime was committed against the people of Nagasaki. The second bombing had a similarly devastating impact and killed a further 50,000 people.

These were real people with lives, futures and people who loved them. Many of them were killed instantly, while others suffered for weeks and months with deadly injuries and acute radiation sickness.

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Many of those who survived the blasts were affected for the rest of their lives. In 2017 one of the Hiroshima survivors, peace campaigner Sunao Tsuboi, who passed away last year, told the Guardian that “there was so much smoke in the air that you could barely see 100 metres ahead, but what I did see convinced me that I had entered a living hell on earth.”

It should have been the moment when political leaders said never again to the use of such evil weapons. But there are far more nuclear warheads in the world today than there were in 1945 and they are far, far more devastating in their destructive power.

Thankfully these deadly weapons haven't been used as a weapon of war in the years since. However, that doesn't mean that the threat has gone away. As long as there are nuclear weapons in the world we are only one error of judgement or irrational act away from the same kind of destruction that was inflicted on Japan.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine emphasises the continued threat of these weapons, and the necessity of global disarmament.

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Last year the UK government committed to increasing its nuclear warhead stocks by 40 per cent. There is no reason to believe that this will change under Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, who are both on record as supporting Trident.

The £170 billion price tag is eye watering. That money could have a transformative impact for the millions of people across the UK who are being forced to choose between heating and eating. It could play a huge role in tackling the climate crisis by providing much needed investment for renewable energy.

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However, even if Trident had no cost implications whatsoever my Green colleagues and I would still be utterly opposed to its renewal.

The majority of MSPs do not want nuclear weapons to be based here. However, we do not have the power to remove them. It is Westminster where those powers lie.

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With both the Tories and Labour committed to their renewal, it is clear that the only way we can remove these deadly weapons from our shores is with independence.

Next year’s referendum will give us the chance to get these abhorrent weapons out of Scotland. But it’s not just Scotland that we want to see scrapping nuclear weapons. It is all governments who possess them.

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Never again should anyone have to experience what the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki went through. The best thing that this generation of political leaders can do for peace is to ensure that we finally eliminate them for good.

There are 66 countries that have already signed the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. I look forward to the day when an independent Scotland can finally join them.

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Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity