Professor Paul H. LeBlond presented a brief to Mr. Clark’s Taskforce on Disarmament on February 10, 1984, on behalf of the B.C. Chapter:
Science for Peace is a group of Canadian Scientists concerned with the global effects of modern weapons on mankind. Scientists have played a major role in the development of weapons: many feel that it is their responsibility to inform the public of the technical aspects and environmental consequences of nuclear and other weapons systems from a point of view which places the survival of mankind above that of current ideologies and political alliances. Science for Peace is a national organization, with headquarters in Toronto.
The immediate motivation for the existence of Science for Peace is the recent escalation in the deployment of nuclear weapons and in the improvement of their delivery systems. Members of Science for Peace have attempted to warn the public of the direct effects of nuclear war, including local blast, radiation and fall-out, and to dispel illusions that simple civil defense measures could prove effective in the case of a nuclear attack. There is also growing evidence that indirect, longer-lasting effects of a nuclear war may be as devastating as the immediate explosions. The “nuclear-winter” post-nuclear war scenario recently described in “Science” is also attracting public interest and raising a number of scientific questions. Science for Peace is involved in the preparation of various meetings and symposia which will discuss this issue.
The Cruise Missile Issue
This is an issue in which Science for Peace has played an active role, distributing a pamphlet on the subject; in which we opposed Canada’s decision to support the development of long-range cruise missiles by accepting to test the air-launched cruise missile on her territory.
The long-range cruise missiles, now being developed, are extremely accurate weapons designed for war-fighting. They are very difficult to detect; they are also capable of changing course. Because of this, and in spite of their slowness, cruise missiles can penetrate enemy defense and approach closely enough to reinforced military targets to have a high probability of destroying them. Advanced cruise missiles, with longer range and anti-radar “stealth” technology which will make them more valuable as war-fighting weapons are now under development. According to reports from the United States department of defense, the Soviet Union is also developing long-range cruise missiles.
Cruise missiles present a great danger to world security because they are war-fighting rather than deterrent weapons, and because they may be very difficult to include in any arms control agreements in view of their small size and flexibility of deployment.
There are also more direct and more specific dangers for Canada. United States Strategists estimate that in order to create an effective defense against the present generation of cruise missiles, the Soviet Union would have to set up an extensive air and ground interception system consisting of up to one thousand surface-to-air missile complexes. Should soviet development of a cruise missile force take place — U.S. Intelligence reports that the Soviets are now developing the BL-10, an air-launched missile with a range of 3,200 KM — there would be enormous pressure on Canada to establish a similar giant interception complex in its Northern territories. Canada’s own armed forces might well be thought insufficient to the task, and Americans would do it instead.
We might thus be faced, as a consequence of Canada’s role in testing the cruise missile, with the presence of significant U.S. armed forces on Canadian soil. Far from being a science fiction scenario, this very issue was raised by a Washington columnist earlier this week (Bogdan Kipling; U.S. troops on Canadian soil?: The Sun, Vancouver, Feb. 7, 1984).
It would seem in the best interests of our country to make every possible effort to achieve an immediate moratorium on the development, testing and deployment of long-range cruise missiles before we find ourselves right in the middle of the firing range.
Canada’s Role In Disarmament
In addition to taking an unambiguous stand against testing new weapons or delivery systems, Canada should play a more visible role within international organizations. It is easily forgotten that departures from existing policy may often be taken by junior partners in alliances while major powers become trapped by the momentum of their existing policies. Our Prime Minister’s present peace initiative is a case in point.
In NATO, Canada should press for an overall reduction in nuclear and conventional arms in Europe. Support for the 300 KM wide nuclear-free zone proposed by the Palma Commission (independent commission on disarmament and security issues) would aid greatly in decreasing the chance of any conflict escalating into a nuclear exchange. Reaction time to false alarms would be kept high enough to prevent catastrophic accidents. The current policy which links proposed cuts with the simultaneous deployment of new weapons systems should be vigorously opposed. This “build-down” policy (the year of new-speak has truly arrived) will only end by replacing existing weapons by more dangerous, destabilizing ones, leading to greatly reduced security on all sides.
In the United Nations, Canada should support measures which build trust and mutual confidence among world powers. Canada should pressure the U.S. in all possible ways for a return to support of UNESCO and the UTI. Support of such agencies and of proposals such as the International Satellite Monitoring Agency: cooperative treaties such as that of the Law of the Sea and scientific and cultural exchanges should be forcefully encouraged by monetary and diplomatic support. Speaking as an advanced and wealthy nation of the North American continent, with a global reputation for the respect of democracy and civil rights, Canada’s voice would carry significant impact in the world community.
At home, Canada should commit a much greater part of its resources to the creation and funding of Peace Research Centres. These centres could be located on University Campuses and elsewhere, perhaps even in foreign countries. There is much work needed to understand the roots of conflict and there is obviously a crying need for practical means to resolve differences between nations without resort to violence.
As a country dedicated to freedom and multiculturalism, Canada’s intellectual and moral climate are well suited to exploring the means for solving international relations problems. We could play an important role in the Quest for world peace. The problems are enormous, looming even larger than the complexities of the arms race. The issue cries out for leadership — It is a call that Canada should heed.
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