An independent Scotland would have its own security service to fight international threats such as terrorism, cyber attacks and serious organised crime, the Deputy First Minister has told a Westminster Committee.
The current Scottish Government would seek to establish its own intelligence agency while working closely with agencies in the rest of the UK, such as MI5 and MI6, Nicola Sturgeon told the Foreign Affairs Committee at a meeting in Edinburgh.
Challenged on the cost of setting up such an organisation, Ms Sturgeon told the committee the Government is undertaking work covering the issues of set-up costs, running costs and co-operation with the rest of the UK.
"In terms of security and intelligence, I would envisage Scotland having an independent domestic intelligence machinery in Scotland, sitting alongside our police service, but working very closely, given our sharing of an island, with the rest of the UK," she said.
Asked by Conservative MP Rory Stewart what strategic threats she envisaged an independent Scotland facing, Ms Sturgeon said, in common with other nations, the country could be at risk of "cyber threat, international terrorism, global instability, the possibility of failed states and serious international organised crime".
Mr Stewart went on to quiz the Deputy First Minister about the costs involved in establishing an intelligence agency.
"The UK has inherited an enormous amount of embassies. It's devoted billions over decades to develop a very sophisticated infrastructure," he told her. "There would have to be a very considerable investment to set it up."
Ms Sturgeon replied: "We are doing a substantial piece of work on some of this just now."
Asked if Scotland would expect to be able to read the rest of the UK's secret intelligence, Ms Sturgeon replied: "There are arrangements with other countries ... I think there would be a very close relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
"Scotland and the rest of the UK share an island. It would be not just in Scotland's interest for there to be very close intelligence sharing with the rest of the UK, it would clearly be in the interest of the rest of the UK as well."