SCOTLAND should be at the “centre” of the global discussion about getting rid of nuclear weapons, according to a campaigning anti-nuke MSP.

Bill Kidd welcomed Melissa Parke, a former United Nations legal expert who has recently been appointed executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, to the Holyrood chamber on Thursday.

The SNP MSP led a members’ debate on nuclear disarmament in which he argued Scotland could play a “central, crucial role” in establishing a “nuclear weapons-free Europe”.

Kidd said: “I believe that Scotland is uniquely placed to play a central, crucial role in furthering the work that has already been done in ridding our planet of the threat of nuclear weapons and promoting global security.

“And to that end, I believe that the time is right to begin serious discussion on the framework for establishing a nuclear weapons-free Europe, a discussion with Scotland at its centre.

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“This Saturday, Glasgow welcomes Scotland’s first Festival for Survival organised by Scottish CND to explore the link between nuclear weapons and climate change and will include speakers from across the political spectrum and civic society.

“The festival will also look to examine the role we can play in an era of global crisis by showing how campaigns, progressive foreign policy and expertise based in Scotland can take the agenda for peace, disarmament, and climate justice forward.

“For me, part of this agenda is starting the process to establishing a nuclear weapons free Europe, and it is my wish that in today’s debate, the ideas of others and the response of the Government can come together to inform and shape where we go from here to make this wish reality.”

Stephen Kerr, the Conservative MSP for the Central Scotland region, argued for the UK to retain its nuclear weapons, which he said acted as a deterrent against aggression from hostile states such as Russia.

He argued Ukraine’s nuclear disarmament in 1994 meant Russia was able to invade without the risk of nuclear retaliation.

Kerr said: “Vladimir Putin has made no secret of his detestation of our country, of the West and we have seen the lengths to which he’s prepared to go to undermine the West, to undermine Ukraine, to attempt to obliterate Ukraine as a sovereign nation.

“We in the United Kingdom must never put ourselves in a position where we are defenceless. Our insurance in the nuclear deterrent is based upon reality and not some desirable fantasy.”