By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Prime Minister David Cameron is today facing ridicule after claiming that North Korea had the capability of launching a nuclear attack against the UK.
 
The PM made the surprise comments on a visit to Scotland in order to promote the renewal of the Trident Nuclear Weapons system that is housed on the Clyde.

Claiming as "fact" that the North Koreans could hit the UK with nuclear weapons, the PM said: "North Korea does now have missile technology that is able to reach, as they put it, the whole of the United States and if they are able to reach the whole of the United States they can reach Europe too. They can reach us too, so that is a real concern."

However the Prime Minister’s claim has been ridiculed by weapons experts who say that the North Koreans possess no such capability.

Responding to the Conservative leader’s claims, the crossbench peer Lord Ramsbotham, a former army officer, said: "There is no evidence at all to suggest the North Koreans possess a weapon which the Prime Minister suggested could pose a threat to Europe or indeed to us."

Mark Fitzpatrick, Director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation and disarmament at the International Institute added: "North Korea does not have any missile capabilities that could hit Britain and it is difficult to envision circumstances when North Korea ever would want to attack the UK even if they could."

Another expert James Hardy, Asia Pacific Editor of Jane’s Defence Weekly, said: "From what we know of its existing inventory, North Korea has short and medium range missiles that could complicate a situation on the Korean Peninsula (and perhaps reach Japan), but we have not seen any evidence that it has long-range missiles that could strike the continental US, Guam or Hawaii."

According to one expert writing in the Washington Times, the North Koreans missile capabilities rely more on boasts than actual tests.

There was further alarm when the PM insisted that the threat from the North Koreans was increasing.  However last night Downing Street appeared to be trying to backtrack on Mr Cameron’s claim, saying the PM had merely been talking of the boasts from the North Korean leadership.

Mr Cameron’s remarks have sparked comparisons with Tony Blair’s infamous claim that Saddam Hussein could launch weapons of mass destruction against the UK within 45 minutes.  The claim underpinned Labour’s argument that the UK should take part in the invasion of Iraq.

Labour MP Paul Flynn called Mr Cameron’s claims: "wild, hysterical, desperate scaremongering" adding: "There’s about as much truth in this as Tony Blair’s 45 minute claim."

The claims by Mr Cameron came as he visited Scotland in an attempt at persuading Scots that the Trident nuclear system brought economic benefits to Scotland and acted as a deterrent against unstable regimes.

However there was further embarrassment for the Conservative leader when former Conservative Defence Secretary Michael Portillo cast doubt on the PM’s claim that the UK’s nuclear arsenal was relevant to the North Koreans.

Speaking to the Times newspaper, Mr Portillo said it was absurd to believe the UK would use its weapons against the North Koreans and that it was the USA’s nuclear arsenal that deterred Pyongyang.  The former minister also argued that investing up to £30 billion to renew Trident would be pointless

He said: "If anybody is going to use its nuclear weapons, and provide the deterrent, it is the United States.  South Korea and Japan are operating under the assumption that they are beneath the American nuclear umbrella and so do the United States’ other allies.

"To say we need nuclear weapons in this situation would imply that Germany and Italy are trembling in their boots because they don’t have a nuclear deterrent, which I think is clearly not the case.  They too believe the United States provides a deterrent to a rogue state."

Mr Portillo added: “I am not opposed to nuclear deterrents. I believe in them. But I don’t believe in the modern world it is necessary for Britain to have one."

Mr Cameron’s trip to Scotland brought criticism from the SNP which has pledged to remove WMDs from Scotland should Scots vote Yes in the 2014 referendum.

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s visit, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it underlined how out of touch the UK Government is with the priorities of people across Scotland.  She also said that all of the available evidence points to Scotland being opposed to Trident.

Ms Sturgeon said:

"Trident isn't the answer to the threats we face as a country.  It diverts resources from conventional defence - which in Scotland has faced disproportionate cuts by successive UK governments - and the vast amounts of money spent on Trident and its replacement would be far better spent on other priorities.  Furthermore, all of the available evidence - including votes in our own Parliament - point to the people of Scotland being utterly opposed to nuclear weapons being based here."

The Deputy First Mnister said that independence would remove Trident from Scotland but confirmed that the Faslane base would remain as a conventional naval base and joint forces HQ.

Responding to claims by Mr Cameron that Scotland currently benefited from defence spend, Ms Sturgeon added:

"The reality is that we contribute far more than is actually spent on defence in Scotland, as the official figures show.  The real damage to the defence footprint in Scotland is being inflicted by the UK Government. 

"The cuts in Scotland have been disproportionate – with the loss of 8,800 military and civilian MOD posts between 2000 and 2012 – a decrease of over one-third in Scotland, compared to just one-fifth across the UK. The UK Government then went back on its promise to right that wrong and redress the balance.

"The Prime Minister visit also comes in the same week that his government has introduced the Bedroom Tax - a deeply unfair policy that will adversely affect thousands of families across Scotland.

"That is the kind of issue that is concerning people the length and breadth of this country – and for the Prime Minister to focus his visit on the case for nuclear weapons shows that his priorities are wrong and that he is out of touch with the needs and aspirations of ordinary families in Scotland.

"The case for independence is simple and it is powerful.  Decisions about the future of Scotland are best taken by the people who live and work in Scotland.  Independence will allow us to take decisions appropriate to our needs – whether about defence, the economy or welfare.

"The referendum next year will give the Scottish people the right to take decisions in all of these important matters into our own hands."

Comments  

 
# ButeHouse 2013-04-04 23:26
By Cameron's logic Holland, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Portugal etc etc will all be rushing out to buy nuclear weapons to safeguard them from attack by North Korea and Iran.

But in reality none these countries are being targeted though SCOTLAND is......or should I say, England's Trident missiles will be First Strike Targets - you always take out first that which can damage you e.g. Pearl Harbour.

Voting Yes will rid Scotland and possibly even Britain of nuclear weapons. Make Scotland safer

VOTE YES next year
 
 
# bodun 2013-04-05 00:43
BBC Scotlandshire spotted his error quickly and produced this response:

"Alex Salmond accused of believing the Earth is round"

bbc.scotlandshire.co.uk/.../...
 
 
# Breeks 2013-04-05 06:16
Ridicule?

This is the very same type of hysterical rhetoric which led directly to the second Gulf War. Think 'sexed up' documents, WMD's, illegal war, 40 minute warnings, weapons inspectors, and David Kelly's 'suicide'.

Scare us again Mr Cameron, remind us again just how independent your nuclear strike capacity is, and how free 'we' are to act unilaterally.

It's a myth that you can defend yourself with nuclear weapons. You have only 3 choices. Threaten to attack someone, actually attack someone, or retaliate after being attacked.

The first two options are morally repugnant and indivisible from a first strike initiative, and if you're already attacked, the third option has manifestly failed to defend you, and furthermore, options 1 or 2 morally excuses your enemy to retailiate against you. Nuclear defence? No such thing.

Ridicule Mr Cameron? I'm thinking more along the lines of impeachment.
 
 
# clootie 2013-04-05 07:13
Breeks

Well said - that about covers it.

If the "nuclear club" try to maintain this myth of safety through the terror of mutual annihilation then we will eventually cross that line. Trying to lecture the world that they cannot have what you already deploy is an insult. We need to set an example and by doing so we are in a much stronger position to apply political pressure.

People make a lot of money from defence spending. This is American hype to justify the budget once again.

The people of N/Korea are victims not our enemies. Is this the future we dictate leadership change around the world OR ELSE.
 
 
# weegie38 2013-04-05 07:01
Cameron is merely a fool. Blair did the real damage.

The thing is, what if Cameron was right, and knew of a genuine threat somehow from North Korea? Because of Blair's monumental deceptions back in 2002-03, the claims of any senior politician on such things are now automatically disbelieved.

It is that destruction of trust in the office that was Blair's greatest crime, and why he should rot in jail.
 
 
# Jo Bloggs 2013-04-05 07:21
I'd have thought the slaughter of innocent Iraqis and the destruction of their country would be better candidates for Blair's greatest crime.
 
 
# Welsh Sion 2013-04-05 07:36
It is said that Trident is NOT a defensive weapon.

Agreed.

Trident is an offensive weapon.

Nuff sed.
 
 
# Macart 2013-04-05 07:37
How thoughtless and politically callous do you have to be to deliberately use a nuclear scare story on the public? Cameron must have known the effect his visit would have in Scotland and the effect it would have on the YES campaign. So why the crude and obvious scary story? He must have known his words would reek to high heaven of Blair and New Labour.

You ever get the feeling this visit was more about Tory and Labour budget positioning for a GE than offering sweeties for a referendum on independence? And why Thales, why not BAE? A French company whose government would have more pull than Westminster over their future. Well its one of two choices, a deliberately callous choice of wording or stupid.
 
 
# SEUMAS31 2013-04-05 08:17
Well done Dave, you actually caused a surge in S.N.P. membership, keep up the good work!!
 
 
# Jon Dole 2013-04-05 08:18
This 'man' is an absolute blessing to us in the Yes camp. He is a pathetic statesman, a buffoon in a suit, a walking absurdity! A rabbit in the headlights of the paparazzi, a disliked child who's just been made school Prefect! He sickens me to the stomach, yet I find his ineptitude totally and utterly refreshing! Every time he opens his mouth I find myself agog at his stupidity and barely able to suppress a smile! If this is a product of the monied schooling system then I am blessed to have went to a State school! Carry on Cameron, carry on..
 
 
# bunter 2013-04-05 08:56
On another thread I make that two announcements in two days from A.S. and his team regards American companies and inward investment while toryboy pays us a visit to threaten Scottish jobs.

I know who bats for Scotland and I fully expect the media and their media pals to give credit where its due.
Well done!
 
 
# derek mair 2013-04-05 09:16
A arms expert here in The Netherlands said on live TV, that North Korea was some years away from developing the technology to make a nuclear payload small enough to put into rockets...
 
 
# WRH2 2013-04-05 09:44
And as if all of the above isn't bad enough, we have more pathetic rubbish from Dave as quoted by the Herald. "The Scottish Nationalists may believe they have an advantage when it comes to arguments of the heart – Braveheart and all that. But I think we should be very proud of what the UK has achieved."
As the "Dug" aka Paul Kavanagh said, when anyone uses the Braveheart argument, they should be laughed at. They have lost the argument by insulting any right thinking Scot.
 
 
# Jamieson 2013-04-05 10:04
Poor Dumb Dave. He's even being laughed at in the Telegraph, the Tory 'newspaper of record.' Almost 100% of the commenters BTL on an article spinning this topic think he has made a fool of himself.
 
 
# Dundonian West 2013-04-05 10:43
Labour is a nuclear party.
Consevatives are a nuclear party.
LibDems are a nuclear party.

Labour and LibDems are looking in the future for a nuclear capability,--"Something different and perhaps smaller"
I kid you not.

How the heck can you get something smaller with WMDs ?
If we nuke someone----they're nucked--whatever the size. End of.

Get Westminster policies OUT with a big Yes next year.
 
 
# Rafiki 2013-04-05 11:10
I see Mr Cameron strutting on a nuclear submarine; Mrs Thatcher made do with a tank, so that she didn't have to visit Scotland.
 
 
# colsuth 2013-04-05 11:14
The Press and Journal goes further today - Article saying that NKs nuclear weapons could hit Scotland. Why would they want to do that?
 
 
# Early Ball 2013-04-05 12:05
Quoting colsuth:
The Press and Journal goes further today - Article saying that NKs nuclear weapons could hit Scotland. Why would they want to do that?

Precisely.

To be fair to Cameron I cannot see a back up quote for the "depressin" headline. This makes the coverage all the more despicable.
 
 
# Robabody 2013-04-05 11:15
And DW even if you had a limited exchange of warheads, where does all the pollution go? Look what happened when Chernobyl cooked off. It's not all that long ago that sheep from the Galloway hills got the all clear and I wouldn't be surprised if there are raised levels of cancer in the population because of it.

One of these WMD is one too many. Time they were gone.
 
 
# tartanfever 2013-04-05 12:17
Just as Blair and Bush did so well with scaring the western world that Al Qaeda were a global network with numerous terrorist cells in every single country, Cameron decides to pick up the reigns and spread unfounded fear throughout our population.

Politicians have realised now that the most effective weapon in controlling the population is to scare them to death with a phantom enemy. This allows them to to pass anti-freedom and surveillance laws that are used to control and monitor ordinary civilians.
 
 
# clootie 2013-04-05 13:10
Don't underestimate the "seven sisters" involvement. They are often the puppet masters.

The oil revenues of Scotland maybe a pawn in the game of Westminster.
 
 
# davemsc 2013-04-05 13:11
Well he may have decided to scare the population, but he hasn't succeeded. Even the Torygraph's analysis of his speech is an unfavourable one.
 
 
# brusque 2013-04-05 15:50
"""capabilities rely more on boasts than actual tests."""---rather like Cameron then!

I honestly thought we had heard the worst from the duffers in the Tory/LibDem coalition, Danny Alexander and Moore used to top that particular list (to say nothing of the Labour lot who would have difficulty walking and chewing gum at the same time) but wavy Dave has surpassed himself here.

Is there any truth in reports that the Westminster Village sent urgent requests for Dave to go home - the village was missing it's idiot!?
 
 
# maisiedotts 2013-04-05 16:47
He's facing more than ridicule silly fool! NK has contacted Westminster to say UK nationals safety cannot be guaranteed after 10th April bbc.co.uk/.../... Some people need to learn to stop "willy waving" and keep their big gobs shut where the safety of citizens is concerned!
 
 
# jdman 2013-04-05 21:14
Is there no depth to that mans stupidity?
 
 
# km 2013-04-06 04:34
Excellent article in the New Statesman from last year, well worth a read: Where does Scottish Labour stand on Trident? Johann Lamont’s silence on the crucial issue of the UK’s Clyde based nuclear deterrent is deafening:

newstatesman.com/.../...
 
 
# ButeHouse 2013-04-06 18:20
Labour MP Paul Flynn called Mr Cameron’s claims: "wild, hysterical, desperate scaremongering" adding: "There’s about as much truth in this as Tony Blair’s 45 minute claim."

Yet more proof, if any were needed that there are still those in the Labour Party who adhere to the original principals of that once great party.

Paul, your future may lie with the Labour Party in a post Independent Scotland. You would be welcome here with open arms.

VOTE YES next year
 

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