Submission of the Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA) to the
House of Commons Standing Committee on
National Defence and Veterans Affairs
May 15, 2000
We believe that the threat of nuclear war is still one of the darkest clouds hanging over the future of the planet, and that the existence and maintenance of nuclear arsenals constitute the ultimate threat to our survival.
Inasmuch as the National Missile Defense (NMD) program of the United States would inevitably lead to either an arms race in space or military control of space by one nation, the Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA) is opposed to any level of Canadian support for NMD.
We ask the Committee to consider the following:
Practical and Security Considerations
NMD doesnt work.
"Hit to kill" technologies that would allow US missiles to intercept incoming missiles have failed in the vast majority of tests conducted over the past decade.
Counter measures, such as decoy warheads, present problems that have scarcely been addressed.
Even if NMD could be made to work, the threats it is designed to counter are exaggerated. Attack by a long-range ballistic missile is one of the least likely threats to North American security. China has an ageing arsenal of about two dozen single-warhead, liquid fuelled ICBMs that more closely resemble US warhead technology of the 1950s than anything designed in recent decades. North Korea is years away from developing a reliable ballistic missile system that could deliver a warhead to North America.
No adversary would be foolish enough to launch a first strike on the US with a small number of nuclear missiles (the point of origin of which could be easily tracked) when the likely consequence would be a devastating counter attack by thousands of US nuclear warheads.
NMD could not prevent the delivery of weapons of mass destruction by cruise missiles or even such low tech means as suitcases or trucks.
NMD would be counter productive. Deploying it would be a sure way of provoking China into building new ballistic missiles in large numbers.
There are alternatives. The best way to defend against ballistic missile attack is to prevent countries like North Korea, Iran and Iraq from acquiring ballistic missiles in the first place. And the best way of doing that is to ban missile flight tests, which are easily detected and verified.
Legal and International Considerations
The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, 1967, known as the Outer Space Treaty.
This treaty bans nuclear weapons from outer space and prohibits certain other military activities in space. Article IV reads in part "States Parties to the Treaty undertake not to place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner."
The intent of the Treaty is that space should be used "exclusively for peaceful purposes".
In its documents Vision for 2020 and Long Range Plan, the United States Space Command states its intention to dominate "the space dimension of military operations" and integrate "Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict." Such planning clearly violates the Outer Space Treaty, and leaves no doubt that NMD is intended to be a first step in implementing a full "Star Wars" system.
The Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, 1970, usually called the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
As a signatory of the NPT, Canada is committed "to pursue negotiations in good faith" towards a nuclear weapons free world. Support for NMD would contravene this commitment.
The Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, 1972.
Insofar as NMD would violate this bilateral treaty between Russia and the US, the US is seeking to amend the ABM Treaty. Although not party to the treaty, China would construe any amendment to it as being a threat to Chinese security and would react by increasing its nuclear arsenals. For this reason, Canadas opposition to NMD should not be linked to or conditional on bilateral amendment to the ABM Treaty.
At the current NPT Review Conference (New York, April 24 May 19, 2000), most countries are emphasizing the importance to the international non-proliferation regime of upholding the ABM treaty and opposing the proliferation entailed in NMD.
The defence and foreign ministers of NATO countries met in separate meetings last December. NMD was on the agenda of both meetings. The US tried to convince the other allies that they were facing a very real threat from "rogue" proliferation and that a system of missile defence was needed. The other countries expressed grave concern about such a system and its implications for arms control and disarmament. Many Europeans fear that an NMD system would create a situation in which NATO allies faced unequal threats and, thereby, undermine alliance cohesion.
Canada should not support a programme that risks the undoing of arms control and disarmament treaties, and could lead to a fortress (North) America decoupled from its transatlantic allies.
Ethical and Political Considerations
The people of the world see nuclear disarmament not as an ultimate goal, but as an immediate and urgent objective.
An Angus Reid public opinion survey of February 1998 found that 92 percent of Canadians want their government to play a leading role in banning nuclear weapons.
Accordingly, Canada should not provide credibility and political cover for a plan that spurns disarmament and moves towards proliferation and the weaponisation of space.
In a democratic society, the military establishment is supposed to be subject to civilian control. Setting foreign policy should be the prerogative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The Department of National Defence should neither presume nor be allowed to dictate policy that runs contrary to the disarmament process Canada has long supported.
The possibility of delivering weapons of mass destruction by ballistic missiles threatens world security. NMD or any similar programme that would induce other countries to modernise or acquire missile technology increases that threat and decreases global security. The solution to the threat of ballistic missiles lies in banning missile flight tests.
Recommendations of the Canadian Peace Alliance
Whether or not this country is invited to participate in NMD, Canada should take a stand against any and all precursors to the basing of weapons in space and add its voice to the worldwide chorus objecting to NMD.
Canada should work multilaterally for a ban on missile flight tests. The Ottawa Process, which resulted in banning anti-personnel land mines, may provide a useful model.