THE UK’s Foreign Secretary appears to have undermined the claim that an independent Scotland could not become a part of Nato if it didn’t accept nuclear weapons on its soil.

James Cleverly visited Sweden this week, meeting with his counterpart in the Nordic nation and giving his backing to the country’s bid to join the military alliance.

Ahead of the visit, the UK Government said in a press release: “The Foreign Secretary will give full UK backing to Sweden’s bid to become Nato members on a visit to the country this week.”

Cleverly himself said: “My message to our Swedish friends is clear, the UK is doing all that we can to support their accession to Nato, which must happen as soon as possible.”

But Sweden, through foreign minister Tobias Billstrom, has made clear that it will not accept nuclear weapons on its soil.

Billstrom said Sweden would join its neighbouring nations of Denmark and Norway in unilaterally banning any nuclear weapons from within its borders.

Cleverly’s outspoken support comes despite the UK Government having claimed ahead of the 2014 referendum that an independent Scotland would struggle to join Nato if it insisted on an anti-nuclear stance.

The line makes regular appearances in the Scottish media. Last year, in a story picked up by other news outlets, the Times reported comments from a former submarine commander under the headline “Nuclear weapons: An independent Scotland ‘would be frozen out of Nato’”.

The following month, that same paper reported of “a growing chorus of voices who warn that an independent Scotland would have to host nuclear weapons as the price of admission to Nato”.

But the UK Government have not publicly raised any concerns with Sweden’s anti-nuclear stance, instead giving "full" support to the nation's membership application.

READ MORE: Independent Scotland can follow Swedish plan to get rid of Trident, say SNP

Dave Doogan, the SNP’s defence spokesperson at Westminster, said that Sweden’s case showed the “reality” of joining the military alliance.

He told The National: “An independent Scotland's position as an applicant nation to Nato was cogent in any event, but Sweden's stance reveals the reality of the accession dynamic. That is, that Scotland will bring much needed additionality to the conventional defence apparatus and structure of the alliance, together with an absolutely vital element of geography in the North Atlantic.”

Doogan added: “We will do this while working with the UK to remove their nuclear weapons from Scotland as a priority.”

The UK's nuclear weapons arsenal is currently based at Faslane on the Clyde.

The SNP have said that, in the event of independence, the weapons would have to be taken off Scottish soil.