An independent Scotland could trade its share of the UK's nuclear arsenal "for something more useful", First Minister Alex Salmond has said.
He will back SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson's attempt to drop the party's decades-old rejection of the nuclear-armed military alliance Nato, provided Scotland can ditch its nukes.
"The nuclear weapons concerned are not Scotland's nuclear weapons," Mr Salmond said at his Bute House residence. "If they are regarded as an asset, which I would find difficult to regard it as, then I am quite certain that we can trade that asset for something more useful."
Experts predict that independence would herald prolonged negotiation over the UK's military assets.
Mr Salmond was "surprised" by comments from former Nato secretary general Lord Robertson who told the Daily Record newspaper that the SNP has to accept that "Nato is a nuclear alliance and members will retain nuclear weapons".
Mr Salmond said: "When he actually was Nato secretary general, in a speech to the Moscow State Institute on Foreign Relations from February 21 2001, Lord Robertson said: In the founding act, Nato committed itself to the famous three nuclear Nos: no intention, no plan, and no reason to establish nuclear weapons storage sites on the territory of new members; a commitment still valid.
"Clearly Lord Robertson's memory is escaping him. What he is saying about Scotland seems to be different to what applies to 25 out of 28 member countries in the Nato alliance."
Angus Robertson's resolution, which will be debated by delegates at the SNP's October conference, states that Scotland "will inherit its treaty obligations with Nato".
This suggests that Scotland will not be a "new member" but a successor state in the SNP's analysis.
Last month defence consultant Stewart Crawford told the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee that Scotland's defence equipment and personnel "would not be sufficient for the needs of the independent state".