Canadian Pugwash Statement

By Senator Douglas Roche, O.C.
October 23, 1999

The Canadian Pugwash Group expresses appreciation to the Governmentof Canada for its leadership in advancing the nuclear disarmament agenda.The Government's response to the Parliamentary Committee's report on nuclearweapons was positive, and Canada led the way in seeking a formal reviewwithin NATO of the Alliance's policies on nuclear weapons.

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The past few months have revealed a deep crisis in nucleardisarmament and the non-proliferation regime.The gravity of the above events must not be under-estimated. With thecontinued development of nuclear weapons, the refusal of the Nuclear WeaponsStates to begin negotiations leading to elimination of nuclear weapons, andthe breakdown of the CTBT, the world is facing new nuclear arms races.

The gains made in the past decade on reducing the dangers posed bynuclear weapons are being wiped out. Immense dangers to the world lie aheadif the present negative trends are not reversed.

Canadian Pugwash calls first for the Government of Canada to be nowseized of a new sense of urgent action.

Two steps should immediately be taken.

  1. The Government should support the new resolution introduced yesterdayinto the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly by the NewAgenda Coalition (NAC). The NAC was formed last year by seven middle powerStates (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa andSweden) to seek an unequivocal commitment from the Nuclear Weapons States tostart negotiations.

    Last year, Canada abstained on the resolution stating it did not want topreempt the findings of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs andInternational Trade. Subsequently, the Committee recommended that Canadacooperate with NATO allies and the New Agenda Coalition in pressing the NWSto "conclude negotiations leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons."

    The Canadian Government accepted this recommendation and pledged to workwith the NAC. Operative Paragraph 1 of the NAC's new resolution states:

    "Calls upon the Nuclear Weapons States to make anunequivocal undertaking to accomplish the speedy and total elimination oftheir nuclear arsenals and to engage without delay in an accelerated processof negotiations, thus achieving nuclear disarmament to which they arecommitted under Article VI of the NPT."

    The time has come for Canada to vote for this resolution, notabstain. There is nothing in the resolution that contradicts Canadianpolicy. It is both logical and urgent that Canada vote "yes."

  2. A "yes" on the NAC resolution will strengthen Canada's request to NATOto review its nuclear weapons policies.

    Although the review was promised at the time of NATO's WashingtonSummit in April, 1999, the three Nuclear Weapons States of NATO, the U.S.,the U.K., and France, are reported not to want such a review. They areinsisting on the maintenance of NATO's Strategic Concept that says thatnuclear weapons are "essential." This policy flies in the face of thefindings of the International Court of Justice which unanimously declaredthat negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons must not only be pursued butconcluded.

Canada and Germany are regarded by the non-nuclear members of NATO as strongenough to stand up to the nuclear powers. The non-nuclear members arelooking for leadership. The Canadian people want their government to play aleadership role.

It is time for the Government of Canada to hold public hearings in Canada onthe views of the Canadian people on NATO's retention of nuclear weapons.NATO's secret decision-making process is no longer acceptable.

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The urgency of the world situation today demands that Canada work tosave the 2000 NPT Review Conference by: