Nuclear Submarines 'More Than Welcome in Wales' - Carwyn; PLAID SLAMS FIRST MINISTER FOR 'NO GRASP ON REALITY'

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Byline: MATT WITHERS

THE UK's nuclear deterrent would be "more than welcome" in Wales if the Scottish Government wanted rid of it, Carwyn Jones said yesterday.

The First Minister told the Senedd that if the SNP wanted to remove the fleet of nuclear submarines from Faslane on the west coast of Scotland it - and the jobs which went with it - would be welcomed in Milford Haven.

Mr Jones had been asked during First Minister's Questions about the potential to invest in Welsh ports.

He responded: "I did notice the Scottish Government no longer wishes to have the nuclear submarine base at Faslane, it no longer wishes to house the UK naval nuclear fleet. There will be more than a welcome for that fleet and those jobs in Milford Haven."

Britain has four Vanguard submarines based at Faslane naval base on the River Clyde, which can deploy Trident ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads.

The comments were met with immediate condemnation from Plaid Cymru, who said the First Minister had "no grasp on reality if he believes that the people of Wales want nuclear weapons stored in Wales".

The Ministry of Defence said that it was not making plans to move the UK's nuclear deterrent from HM Naval Base Clyde.

The Scottish Government has made no secret of its desire to move the fleet from Scotland.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has long voiced concerns about the dangers of nuclear energy, either to generate power or as part of Britain'smilitary defence, and has said the weapons would leave Scotland were it to vote to leave the UK in 2014, even though it has been warned that removing the deterrent from the Clyde would be the biggest bill in the post-independence negotiations. Following Mr Jones' comments, a spokesman for the Welsh Government sought to clarify them, saying they were nothing to do with Scottish independence.

He said: "As a staunch supporter of the union, the First Minister has made it clear on many occasions that he wants to see Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom.

"However, the Scottish Government has made it clear that they wish to see the fleet leave Scotland at the earliest opportunity. …