By a Newsnet reporter
The Scottish National Party has slammed the UK Government for committing to a secret decade-long agreement with the United States on nuclear weapons.
The Mutual Defence Agreement - which was first signed in 1958 - has been given a 10-year extension by the UK Government.
The new treaty has been kept confidential, which prevented the UK Parliament the opportunity to discuss it. It emerged only after US President Barack Obama announced it to the US Congress.
The agreement is fundamental to the replacement of Trident nuclear weapons on the Clyde and allows for the transfer of information and collaboration relating to nuclear technology between the US and the UK.
Whitehall officials have said that the content of the agreement will be kept secret as revealing it could "assist proliferation" of nuclear weapons -despite both the US and UK insisting the agreement does not in any way breach their obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).
Commenting, SNP defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said:
"Not only has the UK government denied Parliament the right to discuss this treaty, but worryingly they are refusing to disclose the content of what was signed.
"The move signals a stepping up of the UK's cooperation with the US over the design of nuclear warheads, which raises new concerns about the independence of Trident nuclear weapons.
"Only a Yes vote in the independence referendum can get rid of Trident from Scotland, and ensure that the billions of pounds the Westminster parties want to waste on weapons of mass destruction can be invested instead in building a fairer society and stronger economy."
The news follows recent revelations that nuclear warheads had been secretly transported through Scotland’s largest city in the dead of night.
According to Scottish CND, a convoy of more than 20 military vehicles drove through the centre of Glasgow on the M74 shortly after midnight two weeks ago. The convoy included four special lorries which transport Trident nuclear bombs.