THE SNP support signing an international treaty banning nuclear weapons after independence – despite External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson refusing to say as much, The Sunday National understands.

The news comes after Robertson repeatedly declined to commit an independent Scotland to signing the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) at the launch of a government white paper on Scotland’s place in the world in March.

The SNP have been clear that the UK’s nuclear weaponry, which is based on the River Clyde, would have to leave the country after a Yes vote. Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon had said in 2021 that an independent Scotland “would be a keen signatory” to the TPNW.

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In 2017, the UK, US, and France – the three Nato members with nuclear capabilities – issued a joint statement rejecting the TPNW, saying it “clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment”.

At the same time, the three nations underlined a “continued commitment” to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which was signed in 1968.

The TPNW outlaws nuclear weapons. The NPT says that countries which do not already have them cannot acquire them, while those that do must look to phase them out.

In March, Robertson (below) said an independent Scotland would sign up to the NPT but repeatedly refused to say the same for the TPNW, apparently bringing the Scottish Government into line with UK policy.

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The news sparked a backlash within the party, with SNP National Executive Committee member Bill Ramsay highlighting how Robertson had been elected as an MSP after signing a pledge to push for the adoption of the TPNW.

Ramsay said at the time: “The External Affairs Secretary is entitled to make policy within a devolved context in relation to external affairs. He has no locus, as a devolved minister, to develop SNP policy on nuclear weapons, which are, of course, a reserved matter.”

The Sunday National understands that Independence Minister Jamie Hepburn has now confirmed to SNP officials that policy remains in support of signing the TPNW after independence.

The SNP declined to comment, pointing this paper to the Scottish Government.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government supports the objectives of the [TNPW], and the [NPT].

“As the recent paper, ‘An independent Scotland’s place in the world’ makes clear, the removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland is a key priority, with a commitment to constitutional prohibition, which would mean Scotland would be a non-nuclear-hosting Nato member state, just like our neighbours Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.”

Craig Dalzell, the policy chief of the Common Weal think tank, said: “I'm heartened to hear that the SNP still considers itself to support the TPNW, but I worry that the absence of that pledge from the recent independence white paper leaves the water muddy on that commitment.

“I would call on all SNP politicians who have signed the ICAN pledge – particularly Angus Robertson – to reaffirm that commitment and for the Scottish Government to amend the white paper to confirm that if the SNP formed the first independent Scottish government that one of the first acts of that government would be to sign and ratify TPNW.”

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ICAN refers to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the group which formulated the TPNW and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

There have been concerns raised that signing the TPNW may be incompatible with Nato membership, as no current members have signed.

However, ICAN executive director Melissa Parke said previously: “An independent Scotland could join the TPNW and choose to be a member of Natio or a neutral state.

“There is nothing in the treaty preventing its members from being in a military alliance, although it would mean the country could not possess nuclear weapons or allow other countries to base their weapons on Scottish territory, or contribute to supporting nuclear weapons in any other way."