The UK Government is keeping nuclear secrets from the Scottish Government.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) won't give its reasons for not releasing annual assessments of the safety of nuclear weapons on the Clyde, The Ferret revealed.

Annual reports from the MoD’s internal watchdog, the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator (DNSR), were released for 10 years before stopping in 2017. An appeal to a UK tribunal to force the MoD to release the reports again was rejected in 2021.

The Scottish Government called for Westminster to be "open and transparent in its actions around the handling of nuclear materials in Scotland". 

The Scottish Greens described the secrecy involved as “outrageous, undemocratic and frankly dangerous”. 

The Ferret previously revealed that the reports for 2005 to 2015 highlighted “regulatory risks” 86 times, including 13 rated as high priority.

Now the MoD has rejected another freedom of information request asking for documents that explain why they are refusing to release the DNSR reports.

The MoD said it had used an exemption under freedom of information law aimed at preventing damage to relations between UK administrations. The exemption had been applied to information “which relates to the basing of the nuclear deterrent in Scotland”, it explained in a letter to a campaigner in January 2023.

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The letter added: “There is a strong public interest in reassuring the public, especially in Scotland, that the nuclear deterrent is maintained and operated safely.

"However, any misinterpretation of the information, due to an incomplete picture, could lead to further anti-nuclear arguments from the Scottish Government, which is already strongly in favour of removing the nuclear deterrent from Scotland.”

The MoD said that “the balance of public interest” was in favour of withholding the information “as its release would prejudice relations between the UK and Scottish governments.”

The Scottish Greens warned that withholding information that may support arguments against nuclear weapons poses a “clear and present danger” politically. They also argued that the people of Scotland have a “fundamental right” to know the risks they face from hosting weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde. 

Green MSP Mark Ruskell said: “The extraordinary admission in this letter that the MoD and UK Government are actively concealing key pieces of information from the Scottish Government is outrageous, undemocratic and frankly dangerous.

“The MoD is basically saying they won't share this information because they are scared Scotland won't like it and it might upset the US. You simply can't get any more totalitarian than that and this should be challenged further.”

“If they want to reassure people that there are no unnecessary added dangers, they should share the information urgently and transparently. If not they should pack up and ship out. Scotland doesn't want nukes here and they know it.”

The Scottish Government repeated its opposition to the possession of nuclear weapons and its support for world-wide nuclear disarmament.

“In order to retain the confidence of this government and the Scottish public, the Ministry of Defence should be open and transparent in its actions around the handling of nuclear materials in Scotland,” said a spokesperson.

An MoD spokesperson said: “The release of information on nuclear safety must strike a balance between recognising public interest in nuclear safety matters and protecting information about our nuclear systems.”