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Scotland defends defense capabilities

July 2, 2013 at 12:09 PM

EDINBURGH, Scotland, July 2 (UPI) -- An independent Scotland will have a top-notch fighting force but will not waste its money on maintaining a nuclear arsenal, a minister said Tuesday.

Scotland is to have a referendum for independence from Great Britain on Sept. 18, 2014. Scottish Veterans Minister Keith Brown said Scotland has a strategic position in the North Atlantic and will maintain an effective fighting force as an independent country.

"An independent Scotland will have first-class conventional forces which will play a full role in defending the country and cooperating with international partners," he said in a statement.

He expressed concern about British defense policies and budgets, which he said left the region vulnerable while billions of dollars were wasted on support of nuclear weapons.

The British military has Trident missiles stationed off the Scottish coast. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said his government would not support them once is breaks away from Great Britain.

British Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore said an independent Scotland would face insurmountable defense challenges if it votes in favor of secession.

"Our foreign reach, advantages from a highly developed diplomatic network, consular assistance, and places at the world's top tables would all have to be built from the ground up in a separate Scotland," he said Monday.

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