We're a minute early, but everyone's ready to go, so we'll start.
I would like to welcome Mr. O'Toole and Ms. Vandenbeld to the committee today. Thank you for appearing.
I welcome my colleagues back from the summer in their ridings.
Welcome to the first of four panels on defence and foreign affairs; specifically, Stephen Burt, Mark Gwozdecky, and Sarah Taylor. We'll discuss the changing situation in North Korea and how that may or may not relate to Canada.
We have four panels. I'm going to be very disciplined on time, so whether you're asking a question or responding, please look at me once in awhile. If you see this, you've got 30 seconds to wrap up. In order for this thing not collapse into an accordion and rob people of their time at the end of the day, if I don't get your attention, I'll just politely say that we need to move on. Please forgive me in advance if I seem abrupt, but I have to keep us on time.
Having said all that, Foreign Affairs is first to speak, for up to five minutes.
Mr. Gwozdecky, you have the floor.
Honourable members, thank you for the invitation to speak to you today.
Canada, like many other countries, is gravely concerned by North Korea's reckless and provocative actions in pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. This concern is not hypothetical. North Korea has now demonstrated a capacity to deliver missiles intercontinentally, with a range that could reach most of North America. In this sense, the threat from North Korea is real, strategic, and global in nature.
The current crisis has been decades in the making. Since it first became known that North Korea was pursuing a nuclear weapons program in the early 1990s, the international community has continuously sought to persuade North Korea to permanently and verifiably denuclearize. These efforts have not yet succeeded.
Although it is difficult to be certain of the reasoning behind the actions of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, we feel that North Korea's behaviour is motivated by a single priority: the survival of the regime.
North Korea has developed and refined a brutal system of internal repression that has systematically deprived its people of fundamental human rights for more than 70 years, for the sole purpose of protecting the regime from internal threats.
The human rights situation in North Korea is absolutely appalling. The regime sees external threats and feels vulnerable. It knows it cannot match the technological and military superiority of South Korea and the United States. It believes that building the capacity to strike North America with nuclear weapons safeguards its own security.
On the peninsula, North Korea and South Korea are technically still in a state of war, and their fragile truce is being strained because of North Korea's plans to equip itself with nuclear weapons and to perfect the delivery systems.
Beyond sanctions and sustained diplomacy, there are no easy or obvious policy alternatives. North Korea's actions represent a grave threat to regional security and a risk to our friends and allies South Korea and Japan as a result of North Korean missile tests, many of which are landing within their exclusive economic zones and at least one test that overflew Japan on August 29. North Korea has abducted citizens of other countries, conducted assassinations abroad, and repeatedly threatened its neighbours with the use of conventional and nuclear weapons.
As disturbing as the thought of a nuclear-armed North Korea is, the citizens of the Republic of Korea have lived under a significant conventional threat from North Korea since World War II. Thousands could die in a matter of minutes should military conflict erupt. Currently the risk is significant that misinterpretation of intent or miscalculation could lead to an unintended escalation, including military conflict. Canada has therefore strongly called for a de-escalation of tensions.
The profound consequences of conflict also underlie Canada's position that the North Korean nuclear issue must be resolved peacefully through dialogue and diplomacy. has had direct, sustained, and systematic contact with foreign ministers of the United States, China, and South Korea, and in August with the North Korean foreign minister to press our point that this issue needs to be resolved peacefully and diplomatically.
The six-party talks, led by China, with Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and the United States, were conceived in 2003 to find a peaceful resolution to security concerns resulting from North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Six rounds of those talks resulted in little progress, and in 2009 North Korea announced it would no longer participate in those talks.
North Korea is currently the most significant threat to global nuclear non-proliferation and the regime that tries to prevent it. It is the only country to have conducted nuclear tests in the 21st century, having conducted six tests to date, including its most recent one on September 3. Its nuclear tests contravene its international legal obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, but they also undermine the long-standing norm against nuclear testing established by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. With the sole exception of North Korea, the rest of the world maintains a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing.
In 2009 inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency were forced to leave North Korea, and since then have had no direct access to North Korea. They must rely upon things like satellite imagery to monitor the nuclear program there. We therefore cannot say conclusively how much explosive fissile material North Korea has produced or how many nuclear devices it may possess.
North Korea is willing to proliferate dangerous technologies, as demonstrated through its export of ballistic missiles and materials to Iran and Syria and by its involvement in Syria's construction of a covert nuclear reactor. That reactor was destroyed in 2007.
Through increased diplomatic and economic pressures, North Korea must be persuaded to change its current and dangerous course.
Canada played and continues to play a role in striving to change Pyongyang's agenda. In 2010, Canada adopted a controlled engagement policy regarding North Korea in order to draw the regime's attention to the fact that its behaviour has consequences for its bilateral relations. The policy limits official bilateral relations to the following issues: regional security concerns; the humanitarian situation and human rights; inter-Korean relations; and, finally, consular matters.
North Korea is increasingly isolated on the international stage. Even the countries that have historically maintained a minimum level of relations with North Korea are breaking or weakening those ties. Canada has also demonstrated leadership by exerting economic pressure on North Korea.
Canada's long-standing unilateral sanctions under the Special Economic Measures Act are among the strictest in the world and include, among others, a ban on all exports and imports, as well as a ban on the delivery of financial services to North Korea and its people.
The Security Council has adopted nine separate resolutions imposing sanctions on North Korea. Despite this, we believe the international community must exert greater pressure and coordinated bilateral and multilateral engagement with Pyongyang so it realizes that the costs of pursuing nuclear weapons outweigh any perceived benefit. To change course from its current dangerous path, we must convince Pyongyang that it can achieve its goals through peaceful diplomatic means.
Canada has called on the Security Council to take further action to constrain North Korea's proliferation efforts, and we insist that all states fully implement those sanctions. The grave and global nature of the threat posed by North Korea to its neighbours, and indeed to international peace and security, merits the significant and continuing efforts of the international community to address this problem.
Thank you very much for your time and attention. After my colleague finishes speaking, I'll be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
Mr. Chair, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me this morning.
I am very pleased to appear before you today and share our views on North Korea and on the threat it represents for North America, to the extent that I am authorized to do so in an unclassified environment.
When assessing the threat to Canada posed by North Korea's nuclear and conventional weapons, we look at the country's intent and its capabilities. Tracking or predicting changes in capabilities is sometimes challenging, but is usually possible within a reasonable margin of error. Gauging current and evolving intent is more complicated, and predicting future intent and staking one's security on that prediction is highly risky.
When a state like North Korea acquires a capability, it remains in its arsenal regardless of whatever changes may happen in its political calculus and intent, and while it is sometimes difficult to forecast intentions, North Korea has a long-stated desire to be able to target North America with nuclear weapons. With this in mind, I would like to briefly highlight for you today both the likely motivations behind North Korea's weapons program and the state of its current technical capability.
According to defence intelligence officials, North Korea believes that the progress of its nuclear and ballistic technologies are essential to ensuring the survival of its current regime in the long term.
Since Kim Jong-un came to power in 2011, we have seen a significant increase in the number of ballistic and nuclear tests. The regime has clearly communicated its aspirations. During a plenary meeting of the Workers' Party of Korea in 2013, Kim Jong-un outlined those aspirations by demanding the simultaneous pursuit of the country's economic development and its nuclear program. Those two objectives focus on strengthening the state and on its long-term survival.
The North Korean regime feels that it is the only legitimate government on the Korean peninsula and wants to be recognized as such by the entire world.
North Korea's propaganda also highlights a desire to be seen and treated as an equal to the United States, and Pyongyang appears to believe that this will be achieved only if it is recognized as a nuclear power. If we take its statements at face value, there are signs that the government in Pyongyang may be willing to talk, so long as there are no preconditions, including international demands that it give up its nuclear program. Pyongyang maintains that its nuclear weapons are the most dependable and realistic guarantee for peace on the Korean peninsula.
To summarize, the development of an effective nuclear deterrent has been a key long-term goal for North Korea for some time. It sees these weapons as crucial to its survival, and it wants to be recognized as a nuclear power.
I'll move on to North Korea's capabilities in terms of weapons of mass destruction. As I have already noted, Pyongyang has expressly indicated that it wants to be able to target North America with nuclear-armed missiles. To that end, North Korea has now performed six underground nuclear device tests. The first was in 2006, and the last was on September 3, 2017.
A previous North Korean claim that its nuclear device test of January 2016 was a successful thermonuclear weapon, or hydrogen bomb, remains unsubstantiated. However, the high yield of the 2017 test is consistent with either a boosted fission device or a two-stage thermonuclear one. North Korea claims that this test involved a miniaturized thermonuclear weapon designed to be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile, which can deliver a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse in a strategic attack. These claims are credible but unverified.
North Korea's nuclear device testing history has demonstrated real advancements in the development of nuclear weapons. Its possible detonation of a thermonuclear device suggests that it will likely be able to produce an arsenal of high-yield nuclear warheads without the need to produce additional weapons-grade fissile material. Nevertheless, defence intelligence judges that North Korea will continue to increase its stockpile of weapons-grade fissile material.
It is difficult to determine accurately how many nuclear warheads North Korea may possess or may be capable of producing. Our low-confidence estimate is that it probably possesses a number of nuclear devices capable of being delivered by shorter-range missiles, and that it aspires to having a deliverable intercontinental nuclear capability. We judge that it probably has produced enough fissile material for at least 30 devices, and all signs indicate that North Korea will continue its nuclear testing program and efforts to enhance its nuclear capability.
I should also note that North Korea is widely believed to have offensive chemical and biological weapons programs. While it is unlikely that North Korea has the capability to target North America with chemical or biological agents, understanding all the weapons of mass destruction capabilities North Korea may pose is crucial.
Finally, separate from its nuclear program, North Korea has aggressively pursued its development of ballistic missiles of various ranges, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs. In July of this year, it twice tested the Hwasong-14 ICBM, and Pyongyang has now demonstrated rocket booster capacity with a range that could reach Canada and the majority of the United States.
Nevertheless, some gaps in our knowledge remain. For one, North Korea has not demonstrated credible re-entry vehicle performance at intercontinental operational ranges. However, Pyongyang has now clearly demonstrated a real capability to reach North America. Additionally, North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and delivery systems and its threat to target nuclear ICBMs at potential adversaries anywhere in the world directly undermine global non-proliferation norms and threaten Canada's key regional partners in Asia.
While we do not currently have proof of a fully functional nuclear ICBM, given the progress they have made so far, we believe it's only a matter of time before North Korea develops a reliable nuclear-armed ballistic missile.
I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
As Mr. Gwozdecky indicated earlier, of course our hope is that, strategically speaking, the effect will be to push the North Korean government to revisit its approach.
We know it's a difficult task, but it is still one way to clearly explain the world's disapproval of its approach. There is also an economic effect, more specifically in terms of the sanctions that have just been imposed, because those sanctions affect its trade with China, especially the trade of petroleum products. So that's quite a strong point of pressure.
Our hope is that the North Korean regime will begin to understand that even that privileged relationship, which is vital from a foreign trade perspective, is now under pressure. China has not agreed to close the pipe completely, but it is still a very strong message, I think, because, right now, North Korea depends almost entirely on China for petroleum products. The same goes for foreign workers.
Roughly speaking, we estimate that the recent sanctions will cut almost one-third of North Korea's trade revenue. How far should this go? It is a difficult and delicate question, and the answer depends a great deal on China. China has already shared its concerns about a potential economic crisis and a collapse of the regime if we press too hard. So there would be a lot of humanitarian implications not only for North Korea, but also for China, of course.
That's one of China's concerns. It's certainly an issue that a number of our allies, particularly the Americans, often have to address when it comes to China. We also do so. We have discussed this issue at very high levels with China. We will continue to do so.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman,
Thank you to our witnesses. We had anticipated and asked that the and the chief of defence staff attend. The fact that they're not coming and you are makes us even more appreciative of your answering our questions.
After the last round of sanctions, as you mentioned, North Korea detonated an underground bomb with the impact of a 6.3 earthquake. Previously, before the Senate the U.S. congressional EMP commission warned that North Korea does have the operational capability and contingency plans to make a nuclear EMP attack against North America. They've been exercising...and terrorists could potentially execute a nuclear EMP.
Now, your iconic EMP attack detonates a warhead 300 to 400 kilometres high over the centre of the U.S.—assuming they're the target—generating an EMP field over all 48 contiguous United States and most of Canada. As I mentioned, North Korea has practised this. North Korea also has orbited satellites on the south polar trajectories that evade U.S. early warning radars and national missile defences. If these satellites were nuclear warheads, they would place an EMP field over most of North America.
Given that your testimony today has changed, with the increased capabilities of North Korea, from the last time you appeared here, I want to know whether you feel that Canada is ready and prepared to safeguard against an EMP attack.
Mr. Chair, members of the committee, let me first thank you for giving me the opportunity to join you to discuss NORAD in the context of the developments in North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capabilities and the readiness of the Canadian Armed Forces.
I would also like to convey greetings from the commander of NORAD, General Lori Robinson.
Defending Canada and North America is the Canadian Armed Forces' most important mission. That is why men and women in uniform work side by side on a daily basis at NORAD, but also around the world, to protect our continent.
The importance of this defence relationship for Canada was reiterated in the new defence policy published a few months ago. The recent demonstrations of North Korea's growing capabilities in ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons are an increasingly significant concern for North American defence, a concern that has grown significantly and much more rapidly and extensively than the experts had foreseen.
The years 2016 and 2017 have been North Korea's most active years in the development of its nuclear weapons and missiles program. The country is looking for nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities that can reach North America. In his five years as a supreme leader, Kim Jong-un has conducted almost three times as many ballistic missile tests as his father and grandfather in their combined reigns of 63 years in power.
Overall, when NORAD assesses the evolving ICBM threat posed by North Korea, it considers mainly two factors: capability and intent.
In terms of capability, North Korea has demonstrated, through consecutive ICBM testing, its ability to reach North America and its determination to address the remaining operational challenge.
As for the intent, North Korea was explicit about its will to use its weapons against the United States. However, this expressed will must be understood, at least in part, in the context of its overall strategic objectives to develop its own force—
Sure. Let me start again at the last sentence.
However, this expressed will must be understood, at least in part, in the context of its overall strategic objectives to develop its own strategic deterrent force against the United States.
As a result, when we look at North Korea's capabilities and intent, we can say that North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles represent a threat for North America and thereby a significant concern for NORAD.
As I am sure all committee members are aware, Canada does not participate in the U.S. ballistic missile defence system. However, in the context of its own mandate, NORAD contributes as a partner to the missile defence continuum.
The ballistic missile defence continuum is not only about engagement of an incoming ballistic missile. Once the threat is identified, we must find the threat, fix it, track it, target it, and then engage it. NORAD has three mandated missions—aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning.
Under NORAD's aerospace warning mission, NORAD routinely participates in some segments that enable ballistic missile defence, stopping short of the targeting and engagement segments, which are unilateral U.S. Northern Command responsibilities under their ballistic missile defence mission.
In addition, NORAD is responsible to both the United States and Canada to provide assessments of any ballistic missile activity globally that is a threat to North America and may constitute an attack on our shared continent. NORAD conducts this assessment through a process known as the integrated threat warning and attack assessment, which is a subset of the aerospace warning mission.
NORAD has assigned Canadian Armed Forces members to play key operational roles in the defence of potential missile attacks against North America. More than a dozen Canadians are directly involved and work hand in hand with U.S. personnel in the 24/7 surveillance and detection phases of ballistic missile launch, from radar stations from Alaska to Thule, Greenland, and within the United States. Canadians also work alongside the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia at the space-based infrared system mission control station in Buckley, Colorado.
In Colorado Springs, Canadian Armed Forces members man air, missile, and space domain stations and occupy command centre director positions in our NORAD and U.S. Northern Command centre. Canadians also occupy posts in the NORAD and U.S. Northern Command integrated staff, executing staff functions within, amongst others, intelligence, NORAD operations, and plans, policy, and strategy. These are all functions that directly or indirectly support our aerospace warning mission.
Canadian generals and flag officers hold positions at NORAD—in deputy director, director, and deputy commander positions—where they support the commander of NORAD in the exercise of her functions, which include helping to focus the command on current and future issues.
Canadians have a seat at the table and play an active role in finding, fixing, tracking, and assessing ballistic missile activity. When it comes to targeting and engagement, we have no active role. This does not mean that our job is done. We become observers for a particular engagement sequence, but our aerospace warning mission continues, and we never let go of the watch.
With this, I thank you for your attention, and I look forward to answering any questions you may have.
Mr. Chair, honourable members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to appear before the Standing Committee on National Defence to address the committee's concerns about North Korea and the readiness of the Canadian Armed Forces.
As LGen St-Amand mentioned, North Korea's increasing number of ballistic missile tests is a significant concern for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Similarly, North Korea's recent tests and the overall development of the nuclear weapons and missiles program are a significant concern for the Canadian Armed Forces.
As is often stated and reiterated in Canada's new defence policy—strong, secure, engaged—the home game, the defence of Canada and contributing to the defence of North America, is the Canadian Armed Forces' number one mission. We realize, furthermore, that Canada's geography no longer insulates us from threats, as it once did, and our military stands ready to detect, prepare for, and respond to threats as they arise.
Under detection, the Canadian Armed Forces maintains an all-domain awareness at home through Operation Limpid. As well, the Canadian Space Operations Centre is manned 24-7 to provide continuous monitoring of missile warning data through its primary-display-system modified systems, which rely on U.S. overhead persistent infrared space-based sensors to detect any missile launch. The Space Operations Centre is also in frequent contact with the U.S. intelligence community to receive additional indications and warnings of possible upcoming ballistic missile launches. Together with the United States through our binational partnership in NORAD, we track air and aerospace threats to Canada and the continent.
Lastly, through our partnership with allied nations, predominantly the U.S., we have access to intelligence and space-based capabilities in order to detect threats to Canadian territory. In the event of a North Korean ballistic missile attack against Canada or another nation where Canadians are present, the Canadian Armed Forces has a well-established communication plan to notify the highest levels of Canadian leadership.
The numerous intelligence-sharing partnerships of which Canada is a member, such as the Five Eyes community made up of Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, and networks comprised of NATO member countries facilitate our access to information to better assess potential threats.
With respect to preparation and adaptation, while detection is paramount, the Canadian Armed Forces remains vigilant to prepare for any and all scenarios in order to mitigate threats and to rapidly respond to developing situations.
From a planning perspective, our military maintains numerous contingency plans to deal with all eventualities related to the defence of the Canadian territory to full-spectrum operations. One such contingency plan is called CONPLAN ANGLE, which is the Canadian Armed Forces' global contingency plan for non-combatant evacuation operations. This contingency plan is facilitated by 1st Canadian Division Headquarters, our high-readiness deployable headquarters.
In order to ensure adequate readiness, this contingency plan is maintained through numerous joint and combined exercises such as Exercise Uichie Freedom Guardian, an annual South Korea and U.S.-led exercise that includes non-combatant evacuation operations aspects, and was in fact just concluded a few days ago. We will continue to work with our allies to refine our plans and support the evacuation of Canadian citizens from the Korean peninsula and the region, should that be required.
With respect to response or action, complementing our focus to detect and prepare is the Canadian Armed Forces' primary role of efficiently and rapidly responding to developing threats. Many developing incidents are time sensitive, and we maintain a number of units on rapid notice to move.
The Royal Canadian Navy has ready duty ships on Canada's east and west coasts that are on eight-hour notice to move, while the Canadian Army has four 350-person immediate response units with components on eight, 12, and 24 hours' notice to move.
The Royal Canadian Air Force maintains CF-18 fighter aircraft at high readiness as part of our NORAD commitments, and we also maintain one C-17 on a high-readiness posture of 24 hours to move, in order to provide a strategic lift capability.
Additionally, the Canadian Armed Forces rotates units from all three services through a tiered readiness program to ensure that a number of units are at high readiness for rapid deployment.
The Canadian Armed Forces has a total of six members deployed to the United Nations Command, five in South Korea and one in Japan, at headquarters located in South Korea and authorized to conduct military operations in support of that country. The command's mandate is to monitor the 1953 armistice, to be prepared to assist in the defence of South Korea, and to integrate any forces sent by other countries in the defence of South Korea.
In closing, the Canadian Armed Forces continuously maintains a high readiness posture in order to quickly react to all developing security situations, including in response to the threat of North Korean ballistic missiles. We maintain plans in support of this readiness and are routinely working to update them with our allies and our partners, while exercising these plans to maintain that readiness.
Moreover, we rely on access to intelligence networks and to space-based capabilities to detect threats to Canada and North America and work closely with the U.S. and other key allies to ensure comprehensive detection and response to threats.
Thank you for your time today. I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
I will start by giving the NORAD perspective, because I think we would first be engaging in the detection of a ballistic missile launch. This is under our aerospace warning mission, which long predates ballistic missile defence, by the way.
As I described in my opening remarks, we have Canadians manning consoles alongside our U.S. partners at our operations centre, fully participant and with full view and full situational awareness of what's happening and what's coming our way. We'd have this warning. While the warning's being worked within the staff in the NORAD headquarters, this warning would also be shared with our partners here in Canada through a CFIC organization. CJOC is also in on those conferences, and will be tracking the same activity we will be tracking. The Canadian government, through the CDS, will be informed very quickly of something that's coming our way, coming toward North America.
The next phase will be an assessment, again under our aerospace warning mission, where we will be making a determination of whether or not this missile is an attack or something else. It could be a research and development shot. It could be something that in fact is not an attack. That's a fairly important assessment, because the chain of events that follows will be determined by that assessment.
At that point, Canadians in the NORAD enterprise will go back into watch mode for further shots, for something else coming in. We never quit. We are always at the station. At this point, in terms of the engagement, it will be totally and entirely a U.S. decision to engage that missile or not. We are not a part of that discussion. We are in the room, however. We are sitting side by side. For example, as deputy commander of NORAD, I have an equal status to the deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command. We'll be sitting side by side to understand exactly what's happening. It's kind of a complementary mission, if you want.
From that point of view, we will have the warning, we will know where it's going, and then the U.S. will decide whether they defend against that missile or not.
Sir, that's an area that's a great news story. CJOC and the entire Canadian Forces are fully plugged in, both with the United States and with our allies in the Asia-Pacific. As you know, I spent three years working at the United States Pacific Command and I learned a great deal about U.S. and allied operations while there. Canada, of course, is a Pacific nation, and has been for a very long time. There are a great many things we do within the region.
In fact, last week the chief of the defence staff hosted, for the first time, the PACOM CHODs, which see all of the chiefs of defence from the Asia-Pacific region converge in a meeting—in this case in Victoria—in which they discuss a range of things relating to Asia-Pacific security.
We also concluded, in co-operation with our allies in South Korea, Exercise Ulchi-Freedom Guardian—I mentioned that in my opening comments—in which we worked together for the defence of South Korea and those kinds of things.
We're also very closely linked with Japan. Japan and other countries in the Asia-Pacific are partners in Exercise RIMPAC. RIMPAC occurs every two years. It last occurred in 2016. We're working up again for RIMPAC in 2018, the largest-scale maritime exercise on the globe. We have been participants from the outset in RIMPAC and will continue to be. It's a great exercise to work through a variety of capabilities, including ASWs, which touches on the previous question that you asked.
Certainly our involvement in the Asia-Pacific extends very broadly beyond that. We have defence attachés throughout the entire region. We continue to have a general officer in the United States Pacific Command. We work very closely with our allies in Australia, and I could certainly offer more should you be curious.
Let me start by describing the sequence of events.
As I already described, when we detect ballistic missile activity, we have to determine whether the activity constitutes an attack against North America. At that point, our aerospace warning mission continues. It is not over. There could actually be something else. If we consider that one vehicle or missile constitutes an attack, there may be others. We remain in front of our screens to continue our mission.
When I say that we are observers, I mean that we are physically in the room. The people from the U.S. Northern Command and NORAD are together in the same room. However, we do not take part in the discussions related to targeting and engagement. That's all; it's as simple as that.
If another missile is directed at North America, once again, we have to assess the situation and make a decision. Once again, the responsibilities are transferred from NORAD to the U.S. Northern Command, and the mission continues. That's the process. Physically, we are in the same room.
I'll ask the members to be very visual here in my attempt to explain.
We have a large room, an operating centre, that is divided into domains. There is a land domain, which is mainly the U.S. Northern Command's concern. There is an aerospace domain. There is a missile domain as well. There is an intelligence section. Canadians and Americans are manning consoles at all times, 24-7. There is not one minute when these consoles will not be manned. If something happens, there is an immediate warning, and people will get to work. That is the front of the room.
In the middle of the room you have the command element, which we call the command centre, with the director and his staff. His job is to coordinate, to orchestrate the activities of the different domains of these people who will man these consoles that will provide the information. We have Canadians who will be operating in those positions as well.
Then you have the assessors and the authorities, who are usually in the back when they are present in the room. Those are the authorities that have to do with assessment and the authorities that have to do with engagement, not only from a ballistic missile point of view but also under the context of Operation Noble Eagle and the 9/11 scenario. We also have engagement authority in the air domain that is being exercised.
The CCD, which is the command centre director and the authorities, is a conduit through which we talk back and forth. Decisions have to be made really quickly in all instances. The dynamic is very smooth. As you said, we work hand in hand together.
I'll jump right into it. You heard this morning that North Korea does not consider Canada a threat. I don't find that surprising. Canada does not have nuclear weapons; we do not have ICBMs; we do not have bombers, and we do not have aircraft carriers, so, no, we are not a threat to North Korea.
I want to also say from the beginning that what North Korea has accomplished so far is not particularly difficult. It has been seven decades since the first atomic bomb, six decades since the first hydrogen bomb, six decades since the first ICBMs. Of course, North Korea has had some help along the way, notably from Pakistan, and if you believe The New York Times, more recently from a Ukrainian company. What North Korea has done is not particularly challenging.
In terms of some other history, bear in mind that NORAD was established to address, first of all, the threat from Russian bombers. It was a surveillance capacity, coupled with the capacity to send fighter interceptor aircraft out to meet the bombers. When NORAD transitioned to aerospace, part of the mission changed. It remained that surveillance, that sensory function, but the response to ICBMs was not to send fighter jets; it would have been to send a retaliatory nuclear strike, and Canada was never going to be involved in that decision. Through the latter half of the Cold War, NORAD provided the sensory function, and the United States provided the strike response capability and decision-making.
When the United States renounced the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty under the George W. Bush administration and began to build its anti-ballistic missile system based, first and foremost, in Alaska, it saw this as a continuation of that situation, and in fact decided in 2004 that the decision-making function within missile defence would be within NORTHCOM. It wasn't until the following year that Prime Minister Paul Martin decided that Canada would not participate, so the U.S. decided before Canada's decision that we would not be part of the decision-making process with respect to the launch of interceptors.
That is not particularly surprising. Again, North Korea does not regard Canada as a threat. If it were to attempt a missile strike against North America, it would almost certainly be aiming for its enemy, the United States.
In 2004, Canada gave NORTHCOM approval to use NORAD's sensory information collected using Canadian assets, so they didn't need anything more than that.
Another really important point to make here is that the intercepts do not take place over Canadian territory. The missile defence interceptors in Alaska have to shoot forward as the North Korean warhead is coming towards North America. You can't catch up to an ICBM; you have to shoot it when it's coming towards you, so the intercepts would likely take place over the Bering Sea, not over Canada. The missiles themselves are not entering Canadian airspace; they're in space. Canadian airspace goes up around 120 to 130 kilometres, and then it's space. This is not in Canadian airspace, except perhaps in the final returning stage.
Another thing to say in that context—and this is very important—is that any strike on North America, regardless where a hydrogen bomb exploded, would impact all of North America. These are nuclear weapons. They create radiation, and radiation clouds drift. A strike on Seattle is a strike on Vancouver; a strike on Vancouver is a strike on Seattle. A strike on Calgary is a strike on the Midwest of the United States. You just look at the prevailing winds. This idea that somehow the United States would just sit back and say, “We've actually decided we're not going to take out this incoming missile because it's headed for Vancouver”, is implausible in the extreme. An attack on North America is an attack on North America.
Another thing to add here is that technology is improving so very quickly that I do believe it is possible for the United States to develop a pretty high-capability system for striking what North Korea has right now. SpaceX can launch the first stage of a rocket carrying a satellite into space and bring that first stage back and land it on lakes. They can do this, but can they keep up with the incredible rate of improvement of North Korea's technology? We are in that arms race—the U.S. now and North Korea. That itself is doubtful.
The final point I'll close on in my introductory statements is that I don't know—and you might know better than I—whether the United States has made a formal request that Canada join. We were asked in 2004; we said no in 2005. Have we been formally asked to join, and do you want to go as a supplicant asking to join in a situation where we're dealing with an administration that is a hardball negotiator, or do you want to wait for a request or perhaps seek other ways in which you can contribute to the U.S. mission?
I'm happy to talk about other ways to contribute to the U.S. mission in response to questions.
Thank you. It's a pleasure to be back in Ottawa where I received my Ph.D. from Carleton University 25 years ago, particularly because I'm not here because of a factory recall.
Carleton University's first Ph.D. in this field was my mentor, Professor Ashok Kapur, the renowned expert on India's nuclear program, so I'm kind of still following in his footsteps.
I come before you today with grave concerns. North Korea's thermonuclear ICBMs are an imminent existential threat to this country. Australia and the U.K., which are very similar to us, were threatened by North Korea August 20 for participating in military exercises in South Korea, so I don't think we're exempt.
Kim Jong-un's nuclear arsenal is different from those of other nuclear powers. We live with other nuclear powers, and they're different. He will use his nuclear weapons offensively to win wars. That's my conclusion, and I came to this conclusion after studying his intentions and motives, not just his capability. North Korea is driven by a race-based nationalism, rage, and a profit motive. Kim Jong-un, the leader, is young, aggressive, savvy, and worldly, with boundless ambitions, an appetite for risk, and a drive to win.
What does he want? North Korea's goals are, first, expelling the United States from South Korea; second, ending the hostile policy against North Korea; and third, unification of Korea on their terms. Finally, they're looking for a peace treaty with the United States, and they are expecting substantial war indemnities and compensation in the trillions of dollars. They've made that public.
There are ample published documents no less dramatic than Mein Kampf that document their goals. They haven't changed in 70 years. There must be something to it. North Korea are not deterred from using their nuclear weapons just because the United States has more of them. Kim Jong-un thinks they can win a nuclear war with the United States, and I sat down and ran through kind of mental war games, and I agree with him. I think he could win.
If DPRK united Korea, let's look at what would happen. You're going to have a formidable military and economic powerhouse in Asia, a nuclear-armed, ambitious Japan without pacifism. What will they do next then?
North Korea will soon be able to enforce their demands with a thermonuclear arsenal with global reach. We as Canadians think we are peaceful and harmless. We are not; we're still at war legally. We have a ceasefire with a nuclear-armed state that wants a war for profit and tribute like Genghis Khan, the Manchus, and Imperial Japan before they were stopped.
We are weak and undefended. We see ourselves as neutral. We do not expect an unprovoked attack. We are the ideal target for a bully looking for someone to make an example of. Unless our nuclear allies—and I'm talking about the U.S., U.K., and France—decide to risk their cities to retaliate for an unprovoked strike on Canada, we don't even have a deterrent today.
We cannot be indifferent and stand idly by. The window of opportunity to stop North Korea is one to two years. If not stopped, the threat is going to spread to other causes as North Korea exports the means to other states such as Iran or Pakistan. Who knows who they'll sell to? Imagine a nuclear war over religion, nationalism, race, ethnicity, ideology, empire, or garden variety territorial disputes. Past world wars will look civil and restrained.
We cannot acquiesce to this. The crown has the responsibility to protect Canadians on Canadian soil. We are a democracy, and we need to sit down, get an all-party consensus on the threat posed by North Korea, and build on that consensus. We have to both build a credible defence with our allies, and failing that, prepare for war, and also try every diplomatic means possible to avert this problem. Let us not only bet on appeasement. Let posterity not remember with shame how we failed to prevent a nuclear attack on our soil.
Thank you. My remarks draw on 33 years of experience in the Canadian foreign service and, since then, my work with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.
I spent a week earlier this year in Seoul as a guest of the Korea Foundation, meeting with Korean scholars and senior Korean defence officials and senior officials.
Let me address three questions: first, Canadian participation in BMD; second, our policy toward North Korea; and third, how Canada can contribute to nuclear non-proliferation.
On ballistic missile defence, I believe it is now time for Canada to participate in BMD as an insurance policy to shield Canadians should missiles come our way. Our European allies and Pacific partners employ it. So should we.
The government dodged consideration of BMD in the recent defence policy review. When I asked at the technical briefing, at the launch of the DPR last May, I was told that the government was staying with the policy adopted by the Martin government and then Harper government that we will not participate in BMD but that the government was discussing defending North America against “all threats” with the U.S. government. That would have to include BMD.
From discussions around the 2005 decision, I understand that at that time the government could not get adequate answers to three questions: first, whether BMD works and how BMD would protect Canada; second, how much participation Canada would have in what is essentially a U.S.-managed system; and third, how much it would cost.
These are still good questions, and the current government should get these answers and share them with Canadians.
That said, based on the evidence presented to it, the Senate national defence committee unanimously recommended in June 2014 that Canada participate in BMD. I think that is the course we should take.
Since then there has been abundant evidence of North Korea’s improved capacity to both miniaturize a nuclear warhead and then project it by ballistic missile across continents. As then President George W. Bush reportedly asked then Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2006: what happens if a North Korean missile aimed at Los Angeles or Seattle winds up heading towards Calgary or Vancouver? Don’t we want protection?
While the U.S. may protect a Canadian target near to a U.S. city, there can be no guarantee, since the U.S. system is limited in size and the North Korean ICBM force is of uncertain number and capacity. Unless we are inside the system and making a contribution, we have no assurances, even if the U.S. commander would wish to protect a Canadian target that is remote from a U.S. asset—think, in particular, of Edmonton or Calgary.
Consideration of Canadian engagement on BMD should cover all possible initiatives beyond the simple positioning of anti-missiles in Canada. These would range from a government declaration that we acknowledge the missile threat to North America, to allocating additional Canadian Forces resources to NORAD, to equipping our naval assets with appropriate gear to detect missiles, to radar arrays in Canada, to writing a cheque to support research.
In each case, it would require more attention to security in Canada’s north. Joining BMD would likely bring the continental BMD defence function under NORAD and NORTHCOM. Canada has participated in NORAD’s missile warning function for many years, and bringing BMD into it would strengthen the binational institution at the heart of Canada-U.S. relations, and the defence relationship in particular.
On North Korea, I believe that the government, as part of its commitment to active internationalism, needs to reconsider its current policy approach to North Korea. Diplomatic relations are not a seal of good housekeeping but rather the means by which we advance Canadian interests and protect Canadians. Relations also allow us to bring insight, intelligence, and a Canadian perspective to the diplomatic table.
The current policy of controlled engagement was adopted by the Harper government in 2010 after a North Korean submarine torpedoed a South Korean warship in blatant disregard of its international obligations.
The current policy limits engagement to discussion of, one, regional security concerns; two, the human rights and humanitarian situation in North Korea; three, inter-Korean relations; and four, consular issues. This last provision was how national security advisor Daniel Jean negotiated the recent exit from North Korea of Pastor Lim. The Lim episode aside, it has meant we have virtually no contact with the Kim regime.
There has not been an ambassadorial visit to North Korea since 2010. In fact, no Canadian ambassador has been accredited to North Korea since 2011. This contrasts with like-minded embassies in Seoul whose ambassadors have regularly travelled to North Korea in the last seven years. Seven EU countries also have resident embassies in North Korea.
Our current policy helps no one, hinders communication, particularly at a time when we most need it, and puts us at an information disadvantage, which lessens our value to our closest allies.
The authoritarian regime of Kim Jong-un continues to break international nuclear non-proliferation norms, despite repeated Security Council resolutions. My view is that, while any role for Canada would likely be limited, it would serve our interests to engage the North Koreans, thus enabling us to bring some intelligence or niche capacity to the table.
My former foreign service colleague James Trottier, who made four official visits to North Korea in 2015 and 2016, recently wrote an informed and useful piece in The Ottawa Citizen, arguing for a combination of negotiations, incentives, sanctions, and strengthened missile defence.
Here are some observations. First, South Korea is our friend, a fellow middle power, and the only nation in Asia with which we have a free trade agreement. It's a country that we should cultivate, keeping in mind that it respects and understand toughness in trade negotiations.
South Korea has lived under the threat of bombardment by North Korea since the armistice in 1953. Seoul, a city of 10 million people, is 60 kilometres from the border and within easy range of conventional bombardment. After I met with a very senior official in March, he walked me to the elevator, where I saw what I thought were a bunch of goggles. He looked at me and said, “That’s for a chemical or biological gas attack. I don’t fear a nuclear bomb, because what we have created in South Korea is just too valuable for Kim Jong-un to destroy. He’d rather eliminate us so he can put his own people here.”
Second, Kim Jong-un is ruthless—
Second, he acts like something out of Game of Thrones, but his behaviour is rational and based on self-preservation. For him and the 200,000 or so senior officials who benefit from his autocracy, a nuclear bomb is their insurance policy.
Third, we will have to live with a nuclear North Korea. We need to establish a new equilibrium and accept the least offensive outcome if we are to realize objectives under what I would call the failed “strategic patience”.
The time for a military intervention, if it ever existed, has probably passed, short of some sort of revolutionary, extraordinary intervention by the Chinese, the only power with real leverage in this situation. But for now China does not want a failed regime and the migrants it would bring.
We must live with the situation. I will conclude by saying that we need to reconsider ballistic missile defence for Canada and we should find some way to engage North Korea by changing our current policy.
It's a pleasure to appear before the committee again, among such an esteemed set of colleagues as well.
I have two points that I want to make in the five minutes I have before me. First is the nature of the problem, and second is what Canada should be doing.
The nature of the problem is relatively straightforward: we have an authoritative, absolute monarchy, whose major and only foreign and defence policy is the maintenance of that monarchy, and which has nuclear weapons. Within the context of that particular reality, we have a direct and indirect threat to Canadian security.
I'm often told, “Don't worry about the North Koreans. If they fire a missile at North America, the Americans will make sure they shoot down that missile.” The problem with the pretense of that assumption is that the North Koreans will fire only one missile.
It's safe to say we've seen that this is a long-term problem. This is not something that has just appeared in the last couple of days; it is something that the North Koreans are doing, and continue to do. The problem that we face, in terms of not being an integral part of the American ABM system, is that the Americans may have only a limited number of interceptors, and the North Koreans may have more missiles than we were expecting. At that point it is entirely conceivable, if we are not within the system, that the Americans or an American commander may in fact make the decision that he will be reserving his ABMs.
The second part of the issue that is often overlooked is that the North Koreans have a habit of not directly confronting the Americans, but trying to pick off the American allies. We see this in terms of the activity against the South Koreans and against the Japanese. It is not improbable to suggest that in the long term, as the North Koreans develop longer ICBM capabilities, as they can start looking towards reaching North America, we could also become subject to the type of bullying that South Korea and Japan have suffered under. Therefore, that's the most direct threat to Canada.
The second indirect threat that we do not talk about, but we need to, is that even a conventional or chemical war on the Korean Peninsula is an indirect and major threat to Canadian security, even if ICBMs are not ultimately utilized.
What do we do to resolve this? First and foremost, I will echo my colleagues who have called for Canadian participation on ABM. We need to ensure that we are part of the system, even if we're a junior partner as we are within NORAD. At the very least, if we are facing an unknown situation where the North Koreans are firing multiple ICBMs, we need to ensure that the Americans are not thinking only about saving their cities in that context. That may not be the situation, but it's something we have to be very cognizant of.
Second of all, the time has come for us to consider in much more serious terms how we can participate with the key members among the democratic friends we have within that region. Particularly, I'm referring to an improved security relationship with the Japanese, South Koreans, Australians, and New Zealanders. Obviously, we cannot create a NATO within that region. But given the fact that we are dealing with an individual who seems to understand only the utilization of military force, the more we can act in terms of reassuring our friends—we can't officially say allies, but our friends within that region—the more it goes to addressing the longer-term problem we have with the authoritative regime of North Korea.
The third part we may want to consider is looking once again, as Dr. Byers has suggested, at the fact that if it was relatively easy for the North Koreans to get an ICBM and nuclear weapons, we can expect that we are going to be seeing this particular threat going beyond simply North Korea, so that we may also want to start thinking about building up an indigenous capability.
Substantially smaller countries such as Norway are beginning to think about giving their Aegis frigates an ABM capability when they go into refit. Whether or not they do it, we do not know. We are, of course, about to engage in construction of a very large-scale rebuilding of our next surface combatant. We may want to give some consideration to the possibility of some of the capability being given to a maritime ABM capability. At this point in time, only the Americans and the Japanese seem to truly have this capability, but given the type of trajectory we are seeing, this may be something that we ultimately want to consider.
I will conclude by saying I strongly agree with those individuals who see the North Koreans as a growing threat, but that has been not only within the last two months. This has been in place since the regime came to power and developed nuclear weapons.
Thank you very much.
I'll just say a couple of things.
First of all, Ms. Gallant, you were very right to point out the marine-borne threat of weapons of mass destruction. Thank you for that.
This is something we need to step up, in terms of protection. We do a lot of work with the United States through the proliferation security initiative, for instance. There is a lot the Royal Canadian Navy could do in addition to what's being done right now.
Concerning diplomacy, we heard some really good testimony this morning about the fact that Canada is in an almost unique position, with a direct channel to Washington but not being perceived by North Korea as a threat to it. The recent success of the national security adviser in Pyongyang is a testimony to opportunity for Canada.
Then, as I mentioned, there are other things that the United States would much rather we focus on. They haven't asked for missile defence; they've asked for an increase in defence spending on things such as our air force and our navy, and they want that north warning system to be rejuvenated.
Let's do the priority items, then, and realize that although North Korea captures a lot of attention and although it is dangerous, there are lots of threats in the world. This should not be our single obsession.
Could I interject here?
Let's be clear on one thing. We don't know what the costs are or what the Americans would require from us at this point. In other words, if we start saying that we're drawing away substantial resources for a price tag for participation, that may or may not be the case.
We are moving ahead, as has been mentioned, with the renewal of NORAD, so it's entirely conceivable that if we were the ones to initiate some form of participation within the American ABM system we might be able to negotiate it in that context, because we are going to have to take some very expensive internal moves for the modernization of the north warning system and satellite systems that the Liberal defence policy says we are going to be doing.
In this context, I want to put a brake on the assumption that it's as though if we do ABM with the Americans it's going to cost us a whole lot of money. They may have a price tag; with Donald Trump as President, who knows? On the other hand, though, given the fact that we can see clearly the way the threat has been developing, to ensure that we have some form of participation—it will be junior, and it's silly to think it's going to be anything but junior participation—we want to lock ourselves in for that possibility. As I said earlier, if the North Koreans start getting into the situation that they can start overwhelming the system, we want to make sure we are involved at least in some part so that the Americans are thinking of us in a crisis situation. I think that's really what we're trying to get ourselves involved with at this point in time.
Right now, if we're talking particularly about North Korea, we need to change our current policy to have engagement with North Korea and accredit our ambassador in Seoul to Pyongyang as well, and let him go up and see. Just as our national security adviser has done recently, I would do that as a piece of the puzzle. I'm not convinced that signing on to ballistic missile defence for Canadian reasons will have any effect on the relationship with North Korea. I don't think it will. Countries make their own decisions for their own reasons, and I think we would make this decision now because of the heightened threat to Canadians. Ultimately, and partly to answer Ms. Gallant's comment, there are many threats to a country and you're constantly doing risk assessment of them and making decisions accordingly.
NORAD provides us a great deal of protection, because we're able to build on that partnership with the United States. We are the smaller partner, but we benefit hugely from the investments the Americans make. This is a little piece of the puzzle. One of the questions Mr. Byers asked earlier was, are the Americans asking us? I do not believe the Americans will ask us, because we have been asked. They're going to stay away from this because, although Mr. Trump is unpredictable, certainly I think those around him feel that it's not something they want to get involved in with Canada. It would be for Canada, for Canadian reasons, to say, “Okay, we're interested; how much is it going to cost, what do you want from us, and what will be our ability to manage the system?” I think those are important questions that we need to get answers to, and we do it not because we're partners with the Americans as allies but because we want to defend Canadians.
If Canada were to approach the United States on joining missile defence, I would recommend that it be done very quietly, so that Pyongyang would not find out that we are asking questions about things like what the United States would need from us and how much it would cost.
It's perfectly fine to ask those questions or have a discussion, but don't recommend joining until you know what it entails. That's my message to this committee, right? Doing that is foolish and uninformed. Go and find out the information. Ask the Americans.
The other thing to realize is that a lot has changed technologically since 2004. Back in 2004, the Americans were interested in putting a radar base in Labrador and Newfoundland. They were also interested in getting information through the NORAD system. Technology has improved. BMD is going to be serviced mostly from space-based sensors, from satellites, in the next decade and beyond.
They don't need Canada as much as they did just 13 years ago. That needs to be part of the discussion too. Do they need us? What would they like us to do in terms of strengthening the defence of North America, given the pressure from the White House to increase defence spending? They're not asking for missile defence. They're asking us to increase defence spending, and that is air force, navy, and army, not missile defence.
I would like to welcome everyone back to our discussion about North Korea as it relates to Canada.
We have our last panel of academics. First off, we have James Fergusson from the University of Manitoba, here with us in Ottawa; Andrea Charron from Manitoba via VTC; and Andrea Berger via video conference from London, England. I believe that will also be the order of the speakers.
My apologies, Ms. Mason. I missed your name, which was listed on the back page.
We also have with us Peggy Mason as a witness.
To our academics, please restrict your comments to five minutes each. If we run over, it gives our MPs little time to ask questions, and I know they're very interested in asking you your opinions on various aspects of this discussion.
Having said that, Mr. Fergusson, you have the floor.
I believe all the members of the committee have the overhead hard copy of the threat fans. They are a copy of a threat fan from North Korea and where a ballistic missile trajectory would go to be able to cover all of North America.
Let me get right to the point and deal with the three issues at hand, beginning with the threat assessment.
First, it's clear that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles up to the intercontinental range. How many warheads and how many missiles, particularly at the ICBM level, is unknown.
Whether North Korea has to date been able to neutralize and marry nuclear weapons to its fleet of ballistic missiles remains open for debate. We have not seen evidence, and the only real evidence we could get would be if North Korea launched a demonstration test somewhere over the North Pacific, where it would detonate a nuclear device just to make sure everyone knows it can do it. Right now, at the minimum, we have to plan for an uncertain future, where they eventually do get the technology.
Third, although North Korea has done many military parades of solid-fuel ballistic missiles on mobile launchers, it's unclear whether it has mastered this very difficult and complicated technology. As it stands, notwithstanding the future, most of these missiles are liquid fuelled, which provides ample warning and preparation before a strike. An ICBM has to be fuelled roughly 24 hours before it can be launched, so you get this warning. That's an important thing to consider.
Also unclear is the extent to which North Korea has mastered guidance systems—the ability to launch a missile, fire and forget it, and where it's going to go where they want it to go—and whether that really matters to them, notwithstanding other factors, particularly when you cut through orbital space and the debris up there that might alter its course. We certainly don't know how well they are doing there. They have demonstrated or are showing the beginnings of submarine launch capability, but that, I would suggest, given the empirical evidence of how long China has taken to get to that point, is probably a decade or more off.
The North Koreans, despite what the so-called experts say, do not—and will not for a long time—possess decoys or penetration aids for their systems. This is extremely complicated technology. I refer you to the costs of the Chevaline system that the Brits undertook in the 1970s with Polaris to be able to penetrate the Soviet ABM system around Moscow. In addition, it follows that they do not have a multiple warhead capability. These are one-shot warheads.
The conditions under which the North Koreans would attack North America are extremely difficult to know. I could develop a series of scenarios of how this could happen, but by and large the rhetoric that cuts through all the nonsense is that the North Koreans portray this as a deterrent against the imperialist threat. Whether or not the probability of a bolt from the blue or a pre-emptive attack is low, it cannot be assumed to be zero. It is a possibility that has to be considered.
From general views in the west, as we interpret this through our own lens of deterrence thinking and on our past behaviour, we are looking at an escalatory process in which nuclear attacks, missile attacks, will be directed first against South Korea. In particular, they will be directed against American bases in South Korea, then to its four bases, in Guam and Okinawa, then subsequently Hawaii, then finally the continental United States. This thinking reflects the natural development process of North Korean missile tests, going from short range up the ladder until you get to three-stage ICBMs.
Having heard this issue about how we are not a threat, and we're not identified as a threat, I'll put it aside for the moment, but I'd be happy to talk to you in the question period about the lack of definition and this long-standing, misguided belief that somehow Canada is perceived as different from our core ally in the United States in terms of target sets. Nonetheless, from a basic perspective Canada faces two direct threats.
The first is Canada as accidental target. In an attempt to hit the continental United States, for a variety of guidance reasons—problems with fuelling, etc., or various factors—the warhead doesn't get there. As you look at the overhead, you get an idea of where it might drop if it goes short.
Second, as was pointed out—I think correctly—Canada can be a demonstration target to indicate North Korean resolve and capability in the context of a crisis or war, especially if North Korea is at war and is on the verge of defeat and destruction. One might expect the demonstration would then take place over the North Pacific as a way to signal the west, led by the United States, to stop whatever they're doing, but it may also be the case that they will look at Canada and say that they can fire at Canada undefended, along a path that would demonstrate their ability to hit Washington, D.C.
I will go to the end of this. Let me go clear to “Is Canada Defended?” The rest I'll pick up later and you can read it.
The straightforward and honest answer is no, we are not defended. The belief that the United States will defend us is morally reprehensible and politically irresponsible. It is morally reprehensible because we place the United States and the officers who by oath are there to defend the United States—not Canada—in a difficult moral dilemma which to me is unacceptable. As well, it is irresponsible because we have not negotiated any form of arrangement with the United States to deal with the problem of the defence of Canada.
The United States has three options in a potential attack scenario: a pre-emptive strike to eliminate North Korean capabilities; a second layer of forward-deployed naval systems, which may work against an ICBM; and, of course, a third ground-based layer.
Whether on functional terms the United States would defend Canada is based on four considerations: the size of the North Korean arsenal relative to intercept probabilities and numbers; second, the ability to identify the specific target here; third, the location of the Canadian target relative to American targets; and finally, will the things actually go where they're supposed to go? I'll leave it there for now.
Thank you very much. Just by way of interesting comment, I'm a lawyer, a former ambassador, and president of a very small independent think tank, but I am not an academic. I'm a practitioner.
In my written submission, I made the following arguments. I'll list them because of course there's no time to go into them in detail, and the submission has been circulated.
One, North Korea seeks nuclear weapons for defensive purposes.
Two, there is no effective military means to denuclearize North Korea.
Three, dialogue with North Korea without preconditions has not yet been tried.
Four, there is a role for Canada in promoting a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Five, which I spoke at length on the last time the committee looked into this issue in May of 2016, American strategic ballistic missile defence does not work, undermines strategic stability, puts at risk civilian satellites and, indeed, the peaceful uses of outer space, and is exorbitantly expensive, all of that notwithstanding one—in quotes—“successful” test in May of 2017 in highly artificial circumstances.
My sixth point is not a point I made last time basically because of the timing; I was concerned about the official possibly being identified. Given the toxic history in Canada-U.S. relations of potential Canadian participation in American strategic ballistic missile defence, it is not only futile but risky to raise it again. As I said in my written submission, the word “toxic” is the description of the history of Canadian participation by a senior American official.
Time is short and I wish now to focus in my oral comments mainly on the prospects for a diplomatic approach—given my background, this won't be a surprise—as the only effective way forward.
Dialogue with North Korea without preconditions has not yet been tried. We've heard a lot on the news in particular and in statements not so much from the President of the United States, but certainly from the U.S. Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, who have voiced their openness to dialogue and diplomacy on more than one occasion. What we haven't heard on the media is that so has North Korea, over and over again.
Former senior American official and now visiting professor Robert Carlin recently catalogued... Of course, we're all dependent on translations. If the media doesn't give it to us, most of us can't go and read read the original North Korean statement, but that's why this is such a great service: a real American expert, as I said, a former senior official, has catalogued recent North Korean offers to negotiate. He's gone through a whole series of them throughout this period of crisis, essentially, through the various tests of missiles and the nuclear tests.
Here is how the formulation typically goes. This is the translation from the North Korean statement:
We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table. Neither shall we flinch even an inch from the road to bolstering up the nuclear forces chosen by ourselves—
That's the part we hear over and over. The part we don't hear is the rest of the statement, which is as follows:
—unless the hostile policy and nuclear threat of the U.S. against the D.P.R.K. are fundamentally eliminated.
As I said, troublingly, we hear the first part reported, but often not the second part.
Also less well known is the fact that the U.S.A. has yet to offer dialogue that is not conditional on North Korea first renouncing nuclear weapons before the talks can begin, clearly a non-starter insofar as North Korea is concerned. That is why Senator Dianne Feinstein, a senior senator and Democrat from California, vice-chair of the Senate intelligence committee, issued a statement on August 8—it took a while before it started getting attention—urging the United States government “to quickly engage North Korea in a high-level dialogue without any preconditions”.
To put this another way, this is incredibly optimistic, because it means that diplomacy, far from having failed, in fact has not been given a meaningful chance to work.
Sorry. You're giving me a....
Thank you very much for the invitation.
I think testimony is starting to repeat. I've sent in my written statement, so I think what I will do is just try to summarize and unpack the three perennial objections to joining ballistic missile defence.
By that, I'm assuming that we're talking about the ground-based midcourse defense mission, or GMD, in which, of course, NORAD's role, were North Korea to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile at the continental U.S. or Canada, is to just warn of the attack. NORAD does not have a role of defeating ballistic missiles. That mission belongs to USNORTHCOM. The current GMD architecture is a system of systems involving several U.S. combatant commands, in which Canada has no decision-making standing or authority, although we will contribute to the warning information and intelligence.
Overall, the three perennial Canadian objections to BMD have been these. First, does it work? Second, what's the cost? Third, what effect might Canada joining have on global stability and international security?
First, on whether or not it works, the current U.S. GMD system, of course, has never been tested for real, thank goodness. Yes, there are Patriot, THAAD and Aegis systems that have been tested, but those really are intended for theatre ballistic missiles. That's very different from the ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely and Vandenberg.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency would suggest that test results of the GBI of course are mixed, but they would also say that certainly today's interceptors are much better than those first deployed in 2005. Of course, the full details of the reliability of the system are not likely to be revealed unless Canada signs on.
Second, to go to the cost, GMD is expensive. The U.S. is estimated to spend at least $40 billion U.S. on this. By comparison, often it's quoted that Canada hopes to spend only $32 billion Canadian by the end of the next decade. Of course, then, people suggest that we have to make some tough choices between things like Canadian surface combatants or the new fighter aircraft, but still, it might be money that we need to spend if we think that defence against ballistic missiles, especially from North Korea, is going to be an ongoing concern, and that the BMD system will be able to adapt and change not only to different threats but also to different adversaries.
As many have argued, is it wise for Canada to continue to expect the U.S. to pay the lion's share of the expenses to defend North America? Perhaps there are ways in which Canada can contribute, such as through research and development, which would also benefit Canadian companies and universities. This doesn't necessarily entail a fifty-fifty split, which, I might point out, the U.S. has never expected. It might also be that as a sending state party to the United Nations Command in South Korea, there's more of a role we could play there.
Third, to global stability, Canada's decision to join or not join will have absolutely no effect on Kim Jong-un and his singular focus to achieve nuclear proliferation, but it may on his choice of targets. Ultimately, regardless of the position Canada takes, there are going to be what-ifs.
If Canada doesn't join the BMD and there's an attack on Canada, Canadians are going to ask why we didn't do anything, and certainly allies will ask why they aren't protected. If we say yes to ballistic missile defence—and of course we have some questions about the U.S. accepting our yes, and what the conditions are—but nothing happens, Canadians will want to know why we joined? If we say no and nothing happens, Canadians will conclude that it was the right decision, but if we continue to say no and the U.S. is attacked, then certainly the U.S. public will want to know where Canada was.
I think that at the end of the day this is a perennial problem, a stalemate that's been created, and I don't see it changing with such a politically charged issue with many unknowns.
Thank you. I'm really looking forward to having a discussion with you today about the North Korean issue, which is one that I've worked on very closely over the years.
Let me start by saying that the obvious observation we have at this time is that North Korea has been rapidly advancing in demonstrating its nuclear missile capabilities, and I use the word “demonstrating” there because they've actually been developing those capabilities for quite some time. The change we're seeing now is that, especially since February but particularly since Kim Jong-un came to the leadership in North Korea, North Korea has been conducting tests, which, one after another, are designed to show us that they are making new technical advancements, from solid-fuel missile systems to new engines and to the ability to conduct H-bomb tests.
This rapid progress is in my view invalidating some of the assumptions that have underpinned multilateral policy towards North Korea for some time, but particularly policy in the United States. By that, I mean the idea that we can prevent North Korea from achieving the ability to strike North America with a nuclear weapon no longer seems to hold. Indeed, I believe we've passed that point already. In addition to that, the idea that we might get North Korea to denuclearize any time in the medium-term future seems to be very unlikely now and, as a basis for policy, seems to be imprudent.
I also believe that we have at this moment a crisis in assurance, especially with the U.S. and its allies and amongst those allies. This has been particularly acute in the last few months as North Korea has been conducting many of the provocations that we're concerned about, and I believe it's an issue that is worth everyone's attention.
As a result of all of these dynamics, I believe we also have a major challenge in communications. That challenge in communications relates not only to assurance but also to communicating deterrence and trying to establish the basis for crisis management when crises begin to arise. Furthermore, we have an issue of outlining how we believe we are going to start to meet reasonable objectives as that relates to North Korea. I hope that we can have further discussion over what some of those strategies and policies might look like and what end Canada and others should be jointly working towards.
I think it's obvious. It's clear—manifestly clear—that sanctions have not worked. The long history of sanctions has not worked to prevent North Korea from continuing to develop a nuclear weapons capability. The classic statement about sanctions is that they must be part of a larger strategy, that the best they can hope to do is slow things down, and that in the meantime you should be pursuing an effective solution. In this case, I'm arguing for a negotiated solution.
It was interesting in the Iran case. Again, Iran is an example of sanctions and a broader negotiating strategy. One way that sanctions can bite a bit happens where the government is answerable in some way to the public, such as facing an electorate, so that the economic impact of the sanctions is felt by the public and they let the government know that they don't like it. That of course doesn't apply in North Korea at all.
Sanctions, however, are important. I certainly wouldn't argue that the sanctions be lifted. They're important in a broader context to send a message to other states that this is not a cost-free exercise. North Korea has an incredible tolerance of sanctions because the regime is all-powerful. As the Russians have said, the North Korean regime would let its public eat grass before they would give up.
However, it's still important that the sanctions stay on. This is a statement by the international community that this behaviour is not acceptable, and it's also important for the broader messages being sent, but no, they manifestly fail to stop North Korea. That's why we need to try other things, and I'm urging diplomacy.
In order to answer that, I have to come back to your earlier question and throw in my two cents on it.
Sanctions as a strategy make sense if they're aligned towards a reasonable and a feasible objective. I think the reason we're all sitting here saying that sanctions aren't working is that the objective that has always been outlined for the sanctions is the denuclearization of North Korea. I don't believe that is a realistic objective so long as the regime in North Korea has the character that it currently has.
Partly, it's not the fault of sanctions that we can't make it happen, in my mind. That's not to say that sanctions are not useful tools in meeting other objectives short of that—in my view—quite lofty goal. For example, there might be a chance that sanctions change North Korea's cost-benefit calculation to come to the negotiating table and negotiate something that looks like nuclear restraint. That cost-benefit calculation is probably different for them from what it is for denuclearization. Similarly, sanctions are there as well to prevent North Korea from proliferating dangerous technology to others. That's an objective that's feasible and is worth maintaining sanctions for.
To come back to your question on China specifically, I still need to be convinced that if China were to implement even the sanctions it has already agreed to in the UN Security Council, doing so would sufficiently change a cost-benefit calculation in Kim Jong-un's mind to make him say that he's ready to give it all up. I'm doubtful that this is a calculation we can affect, even if China were to co-operate on it.
In terms of other objectives, I think Chinese participation would be more significant, for example, on such objectives as preventing proliferation to others or changing North Korean calculations over the merits of nuclear restraint and responsible nuclear behaviour. That's a separate discussion that I think is really worth thinking through in more depth, rather than just using the standard narrative that has become so mainstream now, which is that sanctions don't work.
Thank you very much. Yes, I undiplomatically indicated my frustration, and I apologize for that.
Before I jump into this question, I want to add another point. I think the decisive point in then prime minister Paul Martin's decision to withdraw Canada's request to participate in 2005 was that he could get no guarantee from the United States of a meaningful operational role for Canada—a say, as opposed to a passive seat at the table—and he could get no guarantee that Canada would be defended. He wisely thought he could not defend participation to the Canadian public. Those key reasons have not changed in any way.
With respect to the diplomatic dimension, the really encouraging thing about it is that there are so many elements that have not been explored. North Korea has made it very clear, for example, how objectionable they find the military exercises.
Frankly, when one considers the scope of those joint South Korean and U.S. military exercises and then also those of the United States and Japan, they are exercises involving 70,000 South Korean soldiers to begin with, and massive amounts of weaponry, including nuclear-capable planes, and they simulate a decapitation, an attack, a regime change in North Korea. These are extraordinarily frightening simulated exercises. Clearly, over and over again, North Korea has said they want those to stop. That's a very key part of the Russian-Chinese proposal.
Much more basic are discussions without preconditions on ending the technical war that still exists between the United States, South Korea, Japan, and North Korea. There was only a ceasefire, and there have not been negotiations to reach a full peace treaty.
Those are just two examples of the many areas that have not been fully explored.
I come back to the point that Senator Feinstein has called for the United States to indicate dialogue without preconditions. Then the parties can determine the full scope of the various elements they wish to pursue further.