TODAY the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons comes into force.

With negotiations first opening in 2017, this UN-mandated legally binding international agreement, signed by nation states and countries across the globe, prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threats of use of nuclear weapons. It provides a time-bound framework from prohibition to the irreversible elimination of a signatory nation’s nuclear weapons.

Advocates of the TPNW argue that it is an effective political tool which, as it grows in terms of support, stigmatises nuclear weapons and encourages disarmament and weapon reduction. Others view it as a merely symbolic and unrealistic gesture, limited in its achievements as long as the main nuclear countries refuse to play ball.

So far, none of the nuclear weapon states nor Nato member states have shown any interest in signing the treaty, including the UK. The British Government has not participated in any of the UN negotiations and do not recognise the treaty as a development of customary international law. Last year when my colleague Patricia Gibson MP questioned Jacob Rees-Mogg in the House of Commons on his government’s “hostility” to this TPNW, the Honourable Gentleman argued, in his usual patronising drawl, that given the present state of the world, it was in the UK’s best interests to maintain a nuclear deterrent. Question closed.

However, this is not a cut and dried assessment whatever Rees-Mogg may think; as usual, he speaks only for some and not all of the constituent nations of the UK. It does not reflect the opinion of the Scottish Government, nor does it reflect a broad consensus across Scottish civil society. Scotland is in the unusual and highly unfortunate position of having a very distinct policy on nuclear weapons in line with the aims of today’s treaty, while being tethered to Westminster’s opposing view.

READ MORE: Mark Ruskell: Today a nuclear-free Scotland comes within our nation’s sights

Ensuring a nuclear weapon-free Scotland is one of the cornerstones of SNP policy once we have achieved independence. Just this year, Nicola Sturgeon endorsed the Scottish Women’s Covenant on the TPNW, recognising it as the first nuclear disarmament treaty to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of these weapons on women across the globe as well as the lack of female representation in nuclear discussions.

The SNP believes that nuclear weapons are in fundamental contradiction to humanitarian values and international law and carry with them unacceptable risks for the host nations where they reside, in our case with the aberration of Trident, not to mention the growing cost in the name of security.

Given the twin dangers of Covid and climate change, surely our security would be far better served with investment in tacking these challenges rather than in nuclear deterrence and the catastrophic consequences of a possible nuclear attack.

As writer and independence supporter Pat Kane has argued, ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons should be one of an independent Scotland’s “first geopolitical acts” as a nation state. Like our friends across the water in Ireland, we could play a key leadership role in the push for global disarmament, further strengthening our powers of persuasion to pressurise Number 10 to eliminate ownership of UK nuclear weapons.

In the here and now, as ever, our views are subsumed by Westminster’s intransigence. This is all the more frustrating when, just this past weekend, a nuclear convoy journeyed through central and southern Scotland carrying Trident nuclear missile warheads en route to the Royal Naval Armament Depot at Coulport next to Faslane.

There are so many issues with this passage of highly dangerous and life-threatening weaponry through populated areas of Scotland. Not least the weather conditions across the country at this time of year making it a potentially treacherous journey, but also the restrictions on travel during the Covid lockdown. I’m not sure transporting weaponry can be classified as key work during a pandemic.

But it also highlights not just the unfair and risk-laden burden on the Scottish people as host nation within the UK to these missiles, but the enormous disconnect between Westminster and Holyrood on this matter. Only through independence can Scotland commit to the drive for a nuclear-free world and remove forever these unwanted weapons of mass destruction. Only through independence can we fully join the world in this push for peace.