The Scottish first minister, Alex Salmond, has unveiled his legal argument for independence from the United Kingdom ahead of a referendum next year.

"Scotland's future is now in Scotland's hands," Salmond said on Tuesday, launching the 670-page "white paper" in Glasgow.

"It won't be decided by me, it won't be decided by our opponents, it won't be decided by the media. It will be decided by the people."

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Salmond has said the long-awaited document will pave the way for the end of the United Kingdom, setting forth the economic, social and democratic case for leaving the country.

The document sets out detailed plans for currency, taxation, childcare, welfare and other issues facing an independent Scotland.

Under the plan, Scotland would continue using the Sterling currency, the queen would be head of state and the country would remain in the European Union. It would however have its own defence force and collect its own taxes.

Salmond said there would be no need to increase taxes if Scotland broke away, noting: "We know we have the people, the skills and resources to make Scotland a more successful country."

He said Scottish taxes would not be spent on nuclear programmes and the United Kingdom's nuclear missiles would be removed from Scotland for good.

"Independence will put the people of Scotland in charge of our own destiny," Salmond said.

Salmond, who leads the Scottish National Party, said he wanted to build a "wealthier and fairer nation", adding he had to tackle a "legacy of debt" from union with Britain.

Scotland's oil and gas reserves will prop up the economy for the next 50 years, he said, but the country would need to look to renewable energy after that.

The UK government is campaigning to retain the more than 300-year-old union between England and Scotland.

The referendum will be held on September 18 next year.

Source: Agencies