Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence
Issue 4 - Evidence - Meeting of March 3, 2014
OTTAWA, Monday, March 3, 2014
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day
at 1:01 p.m. to study the status of Canada's international security and defence
relations, including, but not limited to, relations with the United States, NATO
and NORAD (topic: ballistic missile defence); and for the consideration of a
Senator Daniel Lang (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: I would like to welcome all viewers on CPAC and others to
the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence for Monday, March
Before we welcome our witness, I would like to begin by introducing the
people around the table. My name is Dan Lang, senator for Yukon. On my immediate
left is the clerk of the committee, Josée Thérien. On my right are the Library
of Parliament analysts assigned to the committee, Holly Porteous and Wolfgang
Koerner. I would like to go around the table and invite the senators to
introduce themselves and state the region they represent, starting with the
deputy chair of the committee, Senator Dallaire.
Senator Dallaire: I would like to mention that it's a very fine
gesture to open our sessions this way. I will try to do the same in my
I am Senator Roméo Dallaire, and I represent the Gulf of St. Lawrence,
Senator Mitchell: Grant Mitchell, Alberta.
Senator Dagenais: I am Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais, and I represent the
Senate division of Victoria, Quebec.
Senator Day: Joseph Day, New Brunswick.
Senator Segal: Hugh Segal from Kingston-Frontenac-Leeds, Ontario.
Senator White: Vern White, Ontario.
Senator Wells: David Wells, Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Chair: Welcome. I would like to have the committee acknowledge the
presence in our gallery today a group of Commonwealth parliamentary interns from
Uganda, Lesotho, Zambia and Tanzania. I would like to give them a special
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Chair: As per our study reference adopted by the Senate on
December 12, 2013, today we are continuing our study of ballistic missile
defence. As stated in our last session, the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence is conducting a review of Canada's policies that
relate to ballistic missile defence and the current decision not to participate
in the program as proposed by the United States 10 years ago to defend the
continental United States from missile attack.
The purpose of this study is to review the principles and why Canada chose
not to participate and to examine whether those concerns are still valid today,
given the changes to the program over the last 10 years and the new and more
sophisticated threats from North Korea, Iran and a potentially unstable nuclear
Pakistan, which is building 10 nuclear weapons per year, and considering the
development of an intercontinental ballistic missile, not to mention other
potential non-state actors.
For our first panel, we're pleased to welcome Dean Wilkening, a physicist at
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and co-author of the report Making
Sense of Ballistic Missile Defense. Your report has had a very important
impact on those who are thinking about ballistic missile defence. We are looking
forward to your testimony and your analysis about where we are and where we
should be going, especially as Canada remains an outsider in the discussion
because of the decisions by our government to support ballistic missile defence
in Europe and in America but not here in Canada.
I understand you have an opening statement. We have approximately one hour
for this panel. Please begin.
Dean Wilkening, Physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, as an
individual: Thank you very much, Senator Lang, and thanks to you and the
committee for this invitation and the opportunity to address such a
distinguished body. I'm obliged to say that I'm here as an individual. I
obviously don't represent the U.S. government. I'm not here to represent
Lawrence Livermore either but as co-author of the national academy study that
was just mentioned by Senator Lang.
Let me give you a brief introduction to and summary of the congressionally
mandated study. Congress asked the National Academy of Engineering to perform
this assessment. Originally, it was to be an assessment largely of boost-phase
missile defence options, i.e., missile defence options to strike missiles while
their rocket motors are burning as opposed to later phases of a ballistic
missile's flight. The committee revised this guidance somewhat, and we looked at
boost-phase but we compared it to alternatives, in particular mid-course defence
alternatives — shooting down the warheads as they fly through outer space.
Almost all of our current U.S. missile defence systems are mid-course ballistic
missile defence systems. Essentially, we compared boost-phase options to the
current suite of options for broad area defence.
The committee does see an evolving threat. One can debate how fast it moves
or is moving, but certainly countries like North Korea and potentially Iran in
the not-too-distant future are states of considerable concern. Both states are
pursuing ballistic missiles of increasingly long range. As we know, North Korea
has also detonated nuclear explosives and appears to be working on either larger
arsenals or weapons that could be delivered by ballistic missiles. The threat
from states like that is growing, but again the debate is, how fast?
The committee basically viewed missile defence as a legitimate and useful
strategic mission for the United States. We concluded that the technology is
feasible, certainly for dealing with threats from North Korea and countries like
Iran or perhaps other states that the senator mentioned. The system is not being
designed against Russia or China. The U.S. is pursuing a very limited or thin
ballistic missile defence system, but it should be adequate or could be adequate
for defending against a small number of — a handful or a few tens of — ballistic
missile warheads from a country like North Korea.
The study started out comparing boost-phase with mid-course defence options.
The committee did not see great promise in boost-phase missile defence, largely
because the boost-phase duration of a ballistic missile flight is very short —
on the order of one to five minutes, five minutes for the long-range ICBMs. That
gives precious little time to detect the launch, track it and either fire an
interceptor at it or, in some cases, people have thought about using lasers.
Whether you fire an interceptor or use lasers, you have to be very close to the
ballistic missile to have a successful intercept, which means that your
defensive platform is either over or very near enemy territory, and that makes
it problematic to survive. It depends on the defence environment of that
At least in the near term, we did not see viable options that were
cost-effective compared to the mid-course options. If one wanted to provide a
defence for a large territory, certainly like the United States or North
America, you basically are forced to look at mid-course defence options. The
mid-course phase of an ICBM coming from North Korea to North America lasts 30,
35 minutes. About 25 minutes or more is in that mid-course phase. You have a lot
of time to both track the threats and launch interceptors against them;
therefore, you can get very large coverage, defended areas, from one or two
One of the problems I mentioned was the short engagement range for
boost-phase defence. The other problem is that even if you shoot down the
ballistic missile, the warhead still may be alive. Even if you shot down the
missile and it fell short of its intended target, there might be a live warhead
on the end that could still potentially detonate, which is another problem with
Then the committee turned its intention to mid-course defence, both for
regional defence and, as you know, the United States is doing a lot of
development and deployment, both in East Asia and in Europe. The European-phase
adaptive approach is the U.S. approach to providing regional missile defence
over Europe. We have already deployed Phase I, which is based on the Standard
Missile 3 interceptor on Aegis cruisers at sea. They are currently deployed in
the Mediterranean today. Phase II will be a land-based site in Romania, Phase
III a site in Poland. Phase IV was recently cancelled by the Obama
administration for reasons that I could go into if you want.
In general, the committee's view of regional missile defence is the systems
the United States is building and deploying: Patriot Advanced Capability-3, PAC
3; THAAD, Theatre High Altitude Area Defence; and the Aegis Missile Defence
system with a Standard Missile 3 on it. Those systems are working very well in
the test range. The sensors and interceptors provide fairly well integrated
defence architecture, so the committee did not see major problems with respect
to our regional missile defence activities, both in Europe and in East Asia.
Where the committee had larger concerns was with respect to homeland missile
defence, the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System. That's the name of the
American homeland missile defense system. Ground-based interceptors are very
large interceptors based up at Fort Greely, Alaska, and at Vandenberg Air Force
Base in California. Upgraded early warning radars are the sensors that provide
the information. These are the same radars that were used during the Cold War
for detecting ballistic missiles coming over the poles from Russia or China or
whatever threat one worried about back then. These radars have been improved and
are now used to provide track information for incoming warheads. As well, there
is some other radar: Sea-Based X-Band Radar and some Forward-Based X-Band Radar,
The homeland missile defense system is the one that appears to have larger
problems. First the sensor architecture is not as robust as one would like, and
so the committee recommended deploying what I will call discriminating radar.
It's X-band radar. X-band refers to the frequency domain. It's high-frequency
radar that gets very precise track information and can do discrimination as well
at various sites around North America.
That was one recommendation of the committee. The other recommendation was
that we have to redesign the ground-based interceptor, not so much the rocket
motors but the payload, the kill vehicle, the so-called kinetic kill vehicle, or
in this case it's called the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, EKV. That's the
payload. That little device homes in on incoming warheads and collides with them
at extremely high speeds.
The current Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle has not performed well on the test
range, largely because it is a prototype design. It was rushed into the field in
2004 by President Bush to meet a campaign pledge. The system was not fully
tested at the time, and we've seen some test problems with it over the last
decade, so the second recommendation with respect to homeland defence was to
redesign the kill vehicle.
I'm happy to say that both these activities are ongoing. There is effort to
redesign and deploy a new kill vehicle, which will have much improved
reliability and impressive performance, and there are efforts under way to
design and deploy long range discriminating radar. There are some differences
between what the national academy recommends and what's currently ongoing, but
at the macro level both of these areas are being improved.
One of the interesting recommendations of the committee was that the United
States should deploy a third interceptor site on the East Coast of the United
States. This was picked up by Congress and written into congressional
legislation that required the Department of Defense to investigate and perform
an environmental impact assessment of an East Coast interceptor site.
There has been some confusion in my mind and in the American press about
this. The East Coast interceptor site was largely designed to provide a
shoot-look-shoot capability for threats coming from Iran. Shoot-look-shoot is a
firing doctrine where you launch one interceptor early in the threat missile's
flight and then you see whether you hit it or not or destroyed it or not. If you
did not, then you fire another interceptor later on. You fire two in series, as
opposed to just firing a bunch of them in one shot.
Our current doctrine is to fire a bunch of them in one shot. We do not have
the capability to shoot, look to see whether that interceptor was successful,
and then shoot again. The reason you move to shoot-look-shoot is that it's a
more efficient firing doctrine. If I fire three interceptors at an incoming
target and the first one hits it, then I've wasted two. If I fire one, I see if
I've destroyed it or not and then fire a subsequent one later on, then if I did
destroy it with the first one I save those subsequent shots. It's a more
efficient firing doctrine.
The East Coast interceptor site was primarily designed to provide
shoot-look-shoot capability against Iran. Our current doctrine for defence of
North America, or for the United States, really, is what is called a salvo fire
doctrine where these ground-based interceptors up in Alaska are launched in a
salvo against any target coming from North Korea or Iran. We can protect the
entire United States from an Iranian ballistic missile if it's launched in a
salvo mode, not shoot-look-shoot.
There's a lot of misunderstanding. People say, "Well, we can't defend against
Iran. That's why we need the East Coast site." That's not true. The United
States can defend the entire continental United States — and for this committee
I will say the better part of Canada — against an Iranian or a North Korean
missile as long as it confines itself to a salvo firing doctrine.
Those are some of the more controversial. The homeland defence
recommendations were some of the more controversial ones. Many of them have been
adopted, some have not, and some have been adopted in different variants. In any
case, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the Department of Defense are working
on a number of improvements in this area.
With that, I will simply turn it over to questions or concerns, interests you
have especially about Canada, and I will address them to the best of my ability.
The Chair: Thank you very much, doctor. You've given us a pretty good
overview of the study that was done and its implications. I would like to start
out with one question.
Could you provide some thoughts on whether Canada should participate in the
ballistic missile defence program by, for example, providing territory if
required for radar installations and perhaps even, if necessary, for
interceptors. Do you have any comments on that? Specifically, I'm wondering if
you could tell us whether Canada's participation would increase the
effectiveness of the ballistic missile defence program. Would it contribute to
increasing Canada's security, and, if so, how?
Mr. Wilkening: Obviously, with respect to the first question, I'll
give you my personal view. I think Canada should participate with the United
States, both as a member of NATO in the European phase adaptive and through
NORAD in the North American defence against ballistic missiles. So, with respect
to the "should," I would give a hearty yes; I think Canada should.
Would it improve Canadian security? Obviously, it would if Canada is
threatened directly by ballistic missiles. Now, one has to get into somewhat of
a scenario-specific discussion. Under what circumstances could Canada be
threatened by long range ballistic missiles from the likes of, say, North Korea?
One can hypothesize scenarios where you might come under threat, where Ottawa,
Montreal, Vancouver might be threatened, but these scenario discussions always
are hypothetical and sometimes a bit fanciful. So it's hard to provide a
definitive answer, but let's say Canada participates with the United States in a
coalition and is threatened with missile attack by some regional power like
North Korea to stay out of a conflict in East Asia. Then that North American
missile defence system would be very useful for protecting Canada.
At the strategic level, it is to provide some limited protections so that
Canada cannot be coerced into remaining on the sidelines of a potential future
conflict. That, in my mind, is one of the principal roles of missile defence.
Should deterrence fail, should war start and should missiles actually fly, then,
of course, the missile defence provides an objective protection up to a limit
because these are all very "thin," I'll call them. They are limited ballistic
missile defence systems, but they're being designed to handle threats from North
Korea, not threats from China, Russia or a large missile arsenal like that, but
regional adversaries that may have nuclear weapons on top of these missiles. So,
in peacetime, in crisis, the missile defence system helps prevent Canada from
being coerced into staying on the sidelines of a potential conflict and gives
you greater freedom to decide whether, in fact, you want to join NATO or the
United States in some future conflict scenario.
I think that's one of the principal benefits. If war starts, then you get
physical protection to the extent that the system works as designed against
missiles that might be launched at Ottawa.
Did I cover all the questions? I'm not sure. Oh, what could Canada do to
improve the effectiveness of system? That's a very interesting question. At the
very elementary level, Canada could provide political support for missile
defence activities, and I think that's very useful. Canadian territory might be
useful for the location of some sensors — these long-range radar — but it's not
obvious that Canadian territory would be the optimal location. First of all,
with respect to a North Korean threat, Alaska happens to be the optimal
location, so that's why Clear, Alaska. That's why the ground-based interceptor
site is located up in Alaska because you're right in the flight path of North
Korean ICBMs coming to North America, whether they're heading to Canada or the
United States. For Iran, Greenland is right in the flight path, and Thule is
where the early-warning radar is. The committee recommended putting one of these
long-range discriminating radars at Thule, at that same site. That's a
discussion with Denmark, but Canada is right across the water there. Some of
those sites up in Newfoundland or Labrador might be useful, but it's not obvious
what would be an optimal location.
On the NATO story, there may be interesting ways that Canada could
participate in NATO missile defence as opposed to homeland missile defence. The
good news of the story for Canada is that the current homeland missile defence
architecture essentially has the capability to provide protection for almost all
of Canada, certainly all of the populated areas of Canada close to the border,
but even a lot of the northern territories as well. So the inherent capability
is already there in the system. It's just that you have to have the agreement
between the governments that you really will participate and that the American
system will be used to extend coverage over Canada, which is not the case today.
Senator Dallaire: Welcome. In the non-boost phase and in the warhead
survivability dimension of that threat, I'm just wondering to what extent the
sophistication exists, now or anticipated, because we're building for years to
come with, of course, continuous upgrades, but you're into long-range. So the
threat is also doing his homework. Taking the engine out is one thing, but
taking an active, potentially independently operating, functional warhead is
another. We've got smart munitions, on the conventional side of the house, that
have achieved extraordinary capabilities. How smart can the warhead be in
evading even a — I like what you're calling it — cluster item? I was going to
call it a shotgun assault on an incoming missile.
Mr. Wilkening: Let me try to clarify. I might have confused some of
you. When you do boost-phase defence, hit the rocket motors and cause the
missile to fall short on range, the warhead still may be alive. That's a problem
for boost-phase defence. Once the warhead has dropped off the end of the rocket
and is falling like a stone through outer space, that's the mid-course phase.
The mid-course interceptors find that warhead — the sensor architecture tries to
find it — and the interceptor physically goes up and literally collides with
that warhead. It pulverizes it when this collision occurs.
One of the interesting things about missile defence and the technology these
days is that — you mentioned precision-guided munitions — what we're seeing in
the area of missile defence is the application of precision-guided munitions to
the mission of missile defence. These interceptors are amazingly precise. They
hit, literally, to use Krushchev's famous phrase, a bullet with a bullet. The
kill vehicle collides with the warhead, travelling over 25,000 miles an hour,
and it hits a space a couple of inches in diameter. That's how accurately the
kill vehicle homes in on the warhead. This is precision-guided munitions for
missile defence. The homing part works very well. The big problem with
mid-course missile defence — and I should have mentioned this earlier — is
determining which object is the warhead and which ones are decoys or dummies
because, as Galileo told us 400 years ago, in the vacuum of outer space, all
objects fall at the same rate, whether it's a feather or a stone or a ballistic
missile warhead. They all follow the same trajectory through outer space and the
radars and the other sensors have to discriminate between the real warhead and
fake warheads, decoys or even that spent upper stage. In the last rocket stage,
when it burns out, it's flying at the same speed as the warhead. The two
separate, but you've got two objects up there, and you have to figure out which
one is which. That is the biggest challenge for mid-course defence, and there's
a lot of work going on with sensors. That's why, in fact, this long-range
discriminating radar is being investigated and hopefully will be deployed. Those
kinds of sensors, as well as optical sensors that use infrared or visible light,
collect a tremendous amount of information on what all those objects look like
and try to determine which is the real warhead and then this kinetic kill
vehicle homes on this thing and pulverizes it when it hits it.
Senator Dallaire: I wasn't maybe clear.
Are we considering the actual warhead — and there is a bit of a supplemental
to this — to be purely a ballistic instrument targeted at a specific point, or
does it have manoeuvrability, as new generation capabilities do have? If it's
going to a target, are you able to discern what the target will be once it's in
mid-flight to decide whether — if it will drop on Montreal maybe you don't want
to stop it, but maybe if it's coming on to Washington you might.
Mr. Wilkening: Something like that, yes.
Senator Dallaire: Words to that effect.
Mr. Wilkening: The way they work today is that once that payload is
dropped off the end of the rocket boosters it falls like a stone through outer
space. It does not manoeuvre.
Senator Dallaire: Pure ballistics.
Mr. Wilkening: However, if you attach small rocket motors to this
system, it could potentially manoeuvre in outer space; so does the interceptor
manoeuvre in outer space? Now you have a game where he and you try to manoeuvre.
Does he know how close you are, so he manoeuvres in time to get away from you,
or can this homing kill vehicle still home on this target?
That's an offence-defence competition. It's one in my mind the defence can
defeat, but there are discussions about these kinds of threats. That's not what
we see out there particularly.
Senator Dallaire: Not now.
Mr. Wilkening: But in principle, this could happen. Or at worst, if
you launch an interceptor and, all of a sudden, you see a large manoeuvre, you
have to launch another one after that manoeuvre. He can't keep manoeuvring all
the way in because he's got a large mass that he's trying to bring into your
territory, namely a nuclear warhead. He has to have some pretty big rocket
engines on that thing, whereas the kill vehicle is small, light and agile and is
designed to manoeuvre and home in on the warhead.
It is an interesting class of responsive threats, but it's not a show-stopper
in my mind. The defence can handle this, but you may have to launch another
interceptor or something like that to handle these kinds of threats.
The Chair: You have to remember that you only have 25 minutes in which
you have to be able to make these decisions.
Senator Dallaire: It has its own on-board capabilities.
Senator Segal: I wanted to ask you not so much on the technical side
but on the broader strategic positioning, where I know you have done extensive
work about the risk of this particular approach to ballistic missile defence
installation, which has had technically a bit more success in the last few years
than in the early years.
There was a critical comment that the very existence of this kind of defence
array for North America or for America and her allies would lead to a nuclear
arms race that would be enhanced or intensified. In your view, that was a
legitimate risk then? Have the facts borne out that concern? If not, what have
you found as a result of the implementation to date?
Mr. Wilkening: Again, I'm going to offer my personal views on this. In
principle, a defence like this could stimulate an arms race — let me use that
language. The two countries that the system is not designed to create an arms
race for are Russia and China. Russia has claimed that this system will
stimulate an arms race. I simply point out that Russia is in the midst of a
robust modernization program of its nuclear forces that have nothing to do with
our missile defence.
At the rhetorical level and at the public level, the Russians will always say
that. Of course, they like to put the onus on the United States for causing this
expansion — it's more "modernization" as opposed to "expansion" — but this
system presents negligible threat to Russia. Hence, in my mind, there is no
justification for an arms race with that country.
China has a smaller nuclear arsenal, so that could be of greater concern.
Even in that case, China has already modernized its nuclear arsenal in recent
years and is continuing to modernize it. I don't believe that modernization is
because of the U.S. missile defence deployments because much of it preceded it.
Again, at the rhetorical level you may hear comments from China that this is why
they're doing it, but in fact they're doing it for their own security reasons.
Can it provoke an arms race with North Korea? Yes. That's what the system is
designed to do: defeat North Korean long-range missiles. They are going to try
to boost the number of long-range missiles, potentially; we are going to
increase the robustness of our defence. I prefer "offence-defence competition,"
because that's what it is, to "arms race." "Arms race" has more of a politically
tainted flavour. There is no question that U.S. missile defence activities could
stimulate an offence-defence competition with North Korea. In my view, that's a
competition that the United States will engage in and, I think largely because
of North Korea's rather weak economic and technical position, it's a competition
the United States could easily win.
Senator Segal: In the early days in those subsequent days of the Cold
War, the theory around mutual assured destruction — a huge and significant
countervailing incentive for the Soviets never to launch because of the ability
of the other side, namely NATO countries, to launch in return the positioning of
theatre weapons in Europe — as part of what really contributed to the Gorbachev
decision to step back from that endless spending process and embrace discussions
at Reykjavik and elsewhere with the American president all seems to make the
case that having a responsive capacity is a stabilizing effect as opposed to a
destabilizing effect in most circumstances.
There is a case to be made, however — and I'm sure you've seen some of these
analyses, and RAND, where you used to work, has done work on this — that the
normative, rational engagement with decisions of this kind, which might have
been expected from the old Soviet Union and might even be expected from the
present Chinese government that kind of rationality, that kind of concern about
consequences, may not be as precisely balanced in places like North Korea and
Iran for various reasons. Hopefully, that situation will improve, but as we sit
here there is that concern.
The answer to this may be that what we do doesn't matter, but how would
putting, for example, a further detection array in Canada to assist in plugging
some of the holes, or perhaps even putting interceptors in Canada — although
that has never been suggested to date, to be fair to our American allies —
contribute to the notion that a more coherent, well-tested system that is
working effectively would actually produce a more rational response from places
like North Korea?
You'll be aware of the most recent UN human rights study about some of the
intensity of irrationality in North Korea. I would like you to connect the dots
because I know your work has reflected on some of these issues.
Mr. Wilkening: I have a bit of a different view in that I regard
neither Kim Jong-un as irrational nor the mullahs in Iran as irrational.
Certainly in Kim Jong-un's case, his leadership is quite unsavory. There is
virtually nothing I can find attractive about their political system and the way
they treat their individuals. The UN report is a case in point.
I think retaliatory deterrence of the old Cold War sort — and these days the
Americans think of it not just in nuclear terms but conventional retaliation —
would be a powerful deterrent for most scenarios in North Korea. On the other
hand, there are scenarios where a perfectly rational person will launch an
attack if they feel they have nothing left to lose.
This is the classic example that I like to give with respect to North Korea.
Imagine a war breaks out, a conflict on the peninsula. This time, U.S. and
Republic of Korea forces are moving north of the thirty-eighth parallel and it
looks like the Kim Jong-un regime is going to collapse. He can threaten to
launch nuclear missiles at the United States — or, more likely, it's Seoul.
That's a perfectly rational threat, and if he did it, we can loosely call that a
rational act because he has nothing left to lose. His regime is going to
collapse. He personally is a dead man.
In those circumstances, having a defence that can at least provide some
protection against that eventuality is a useful thing. It's also useful — if I
step back — and missiles aren't flying, but I think of deterrence. We've talked
about retaliatory deterrence and the rationality of these actors. Limited, thin
missile defence plays a useful role in deterrence as follows: It eliminates
cheap shots. It eliminates one or two missiles having some demonstrative value
if they are launched.
Now, if we have a missile defence system that, let's say for the sake of
discussion, can absorb 10 missiles, Kim Jong-un has to launch 11 to be able to
saturate that system to have one land on that ground, whether it's a
demonstration shot or a limited strike or whatever. He has to consider a larger
attack. This may be over half the warheads he has in his arsenal. He has to
launch that kind of attack to make sure that even one warhead gets through.
That kind of attack is a much riskier option for North Korea than shooting
just one. It's much harder to think that he can control escalation. If you think
of adversaries who want to launch a demonstration shot just to prove they're
serious, maybe launch a missile that lands in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of
North America, now he has to launch 11 of those missiles and use up a big chunk
of his arsenal. It becomes more difficult for him to contemplate
limited-escalation options. So missile defence removes small, limited-escalation
options from the so-called escalation ladder, if you want to use old Cold War
That, to me, is a useful attribute of a thin defence. It makes it much more
difficult for him not only sabre rattling but actually launching. He has to
consider much riskier options. If we put him in the situation where he has
nothing left to lose, hopefully this system can block whatever ones he can get
off the ground and actually provide real protection in a war.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you, doctor. This is really interesting.
One of the thoughts is that Canada's participation in a North American
ballistic missile defence system would somehow guarantee us protection from the
United States. You're suggesting that it might be that we don't really need to
have surveillance or these X-band radar stations. There has never really been a
suggestion that there would be actual missile launch sites in Canada.
What would it take? Are you just saying negotiating an agreement with the
U.S.? What would they want from us in order to somehow guarantee or include us
in this defence? Would it be money to help them build whatever they are
building, wherever they are building it, and not in Canada?
Mr. Wilkening: The best thing, if Canada decides it is interested in
collaboration and cooperation on missile defence in North America, is to start
this discussion with the U.S. government. I can't exactly tell you what they
might want. All I know is the current architecture has the capability today to
protect almost all of Canada from North Korean threats, and I think the same is
true if Iran ever gets an intercontinental ballistic missile. Not a lot would be
required on Canada's part to enhance the capability of the system, but detailed
discussions may uncover a sensor site or radar site. Maybe that would be one
possibility. From what I know, I don't think that would be required, but who
knows? Maybe that's interesting. I don't think it would require an interceptor
site, but that might be a possibility.
The further north your interceptors are, the better off they are. You like to
get earlier in the threat trajectory. But I don't think that would be a hard
Money is always appreciated, but probably the biggest problem with missile
defence is not the technical stuff. It works well technically. Yes, there have
been failures on the test range, but that's a solvable problem. The engineers
will get that fixed.
I think there is a lot of strategic value in a limited missile defence. The
biggest problem is that this stuff is expensive. The U.S. defence budget is
coming down. I know Canada is strapped. The European allies are strapped for
money. Of course, the Americans will always want burden sharing, and if Canada
can see its way to that, I'm sure that would be welcomed with open arms by the
U.S. government. Who knows? Maybe they would expect that, but it's not obvious
that they would.
Senator Mitchell: Let's say there was a perfectly impenetrable North
American missile defence system. It would still be very provocative for the
North Koreans to launch something at Seoul, for example, or maybe further away
from their border, and that would put the U.S. and Canada in a tremendous
predicament — particularly the U.S., because they could retaliate; but then, of
course, if they attack, there is more nuclear waste over the whole peninsula. Is
there a missile defence component for South Korea?
Mr. Wilkening: Yes. There is regional missile defence. There are PAC-3
interceptors, the short-range terminal systems that defend large chunks of South
Korea. South Korea is looking at its own missile defence systems. South Korea
has Aegis-capable ships that would have to be upgraded to handle the Standard
Missile-3, and the THAAD system I mentioned earlier, the Theatre High Altitude
Area Defense system, would be well-suited for protecting much of South Korea.
All those regional interceptor systems the United States has would be well
An interesting discussion: The Iron Dome system, David's Sling system, which
Israel has deployed for defence against short-range rockets and artillery, could
be very useful against some short-range systems. There is a range of short-and
medium-range missile defence systems — some American, and the latter ones I just
mentioned are Israeli — that could be very useful for protecting South Korea,
Seoul in particular.
As I understand it, the South Korean government is interested in this. They
made a recent decision to deploy offensive retaliatory capability. For whatever
reason, the first step they wanted for dealing with North Korea is to provide
some kind of retaliatory deterrent, missiles that could range all of North
Korea. But I know they're also very interested in defensive capability, whether
they want to buy it from abroad or whether they want to develop their own
indigenous system. Who knows?
Senator Dagenais: I know that you recently did a report on
bioterrorism that focused on understanding scientific and technical
uncertainties about airborne biological attacks and the human effects of, I
believe, inhalation anthrax. The purpose of your study was to devise better and
more effective civil defences. Can you comment on that?
Mr. Wilkening: Thank you for the question. There is a spectrum of
threats one has to worry about. We've talked about the missile threats, and
there are reasons why some countries would prefer a ballistic missile as a
delivery mechanism, especially for nuclear warheads.
For biological attacks, unfortunately the best delivery vehicle is humans —
terrorist options and covert attacks of that sort. Missile defence has nothing
to do with that. To defend yourself against covert biological attacks is a very
difficult challenge. You have to detect that the agent has been released. Once
it's released you have to provide very rapid medical intervention. If the
prophylaxis is effective, that can do a good job in protecting the exposed
The United States has done a lot of work on detection. There are all kinds of
techniques for detecting the release of biological agents. They tend to be
expensive as well.
The biggest problem is the medical response. If, in some sports facility in
Ottawa, at some hockey game, a biological agent was released, can you get
medical intervention within 24 to 48 hours and provide antibiotics or vaccines
if it's a viral infection? Can you provide effective medical treatment for the
exposed population? In principle you can, but it's a very difficult logistics
problem to get that medical aid to the exposed population. It's not even easy to
determine who is exposed, because if it's an airborne release it depends on the
I haven't worked in this area probably in almost 10 years, but I still think
it is a very serious problem. One has to pay close attention to whether
terrorist organizations are actually developing this capability or seeking it
out. If so, either you have to try to interdict it before it comes over, or if
it comes over and is released, you have to detect it very quickly and you have
to treat people medically. If you don't, we'll have a real disaster on our
Senator Day: Doctor, thank you very much for being here.
You've talked at length about the importance of improving the ground-based
interceptors. At one time, back in President Reagan's day, we talked about
putting satellites up there that might be carrying interceptors in them; the
Star Wars thing that I think was part of the psychology of Canada not wanting to
get involved in this.
All we talked about today was improving the interceptor and the kill. What
other long-term work are DARPA or other groups in the U.S. doing?
Mr. Wilkening: I don't know all of what might be going on. There's
always talk about space-based missile defence systems. We talked about it in the
national academy report. Most of the ideas are little bit fanciful. The laws of
physics don't prevent interceptors from being deployed in space, but the laws of
economics do. These things are very expensive.
If you think missile defence is expensive, space-based missile defence is
very expensive, because the satellites don't last that long. Just the lift cost
to launch these things is very expensive, never mind the cost of the
interceptors themselves. So I don't see any realistic possibility for
space-based missile defences any time in the foreseeable future for cost reasons
alone. Space-based interceptors might be able to work, but again cost rules them
This has been a bit of a problem for the U.S. government position because the
U.S. government continues to say, "We will not accept any restrictions on our
missile defence activities." So then the Chinese and Russians say, "Well, what
about your space-based activities?" They say, "We will not accept any
limitations on our missile defence." That seems to suggest we're interested in
space-based missile defences. I don't think so. We will break the bank if we try
to deploy those kinds of systems. I am quite comfortable no space-based systems
are in the offing.
Sensors in space, that's a totally different story, but not interceptors,
kill mechanisms or lasers in space.
Senator Day: It's the weaponization of space.
Mr. Wilkening: I don't think there is any serious interest in
weaponizing space in the United States. Maybe there are some R&D programs
looking at things, but I doubt they will ever see the light of day.
Senator Day: I wouldn't mind going on round two, if there is one.
The Chair: Unfortunately, I don't think there is going be a round two.
Senator Wells: Thank you, Dr. Wilkening, for your responses so far.
I wanted to get your thoughts not so much on the delivery systems, but the
fixed land-based ones, or interceptors at sea or mobile land ones or air. What
are some of the constraints that we work under? Or are all those options
Mr. Wilkening: I think they're all available. There used to be
constraints under the ABM Treaty that ruled out most of the kinds of activities
we're seeing today in the U.S. missile defence programs, but they're all
available now: air-based interceptors, naval-based and ground-based.
There is a weight problem: Ground-based you can have big missiles; naval have
to be a smaller. SM-3 is a pretty big missile, from here to the end of the room.
Air-based has to be pretty small. Space-based could be small, but it's too
Senator Wells: Are there benefits to being closer to the offensive
launch site for a defensive capability? Are there benefits in being closer to
the launch site, or is being closer to the intended target better, as it
provides more time or more options?
Mr. Wilkening: This goes back to the discussion of where you want to
do defence. If you're the doing boost-phase defence you have to be very close to
the launch site, within a couple of hundred kilometres, max.
If you're doing mid-course defence, I can be up close or further back. There
are some virtues to being up close, but then timelines get short and you have to
shoot pretty quickly. If I go back sort of halfway through the trajectory —
that's where Fort Greely is with respect to North Korea — then you've got a fair
bit of time and you can get lots of shots as these things go overhead.
If you are back towards the latter portion of the mid-course phase you have
more time, but your defended area starts getting smaller because I can't reach
out that far on either side.
If I go all the way to the so-called terminal phase, re-entry phase, when the
warheads start re-entering the atmosphere, now I'm very close to the end of the
missile's flight, and now the defended areas shrink quite a bit because time is
The re-entry phase lasts about two minutes for these long-range missiles. I
have two minutes to do my defence so I can protect a couple of hundred square
miles, perhaps, but not much.
I don't know if that quite answers it.
Senator Wells: It does.
Mr. Wilkening: There is a virtue to being up close, but there are some
challenges. The current architecture for homeland defence, for North American
defence, the United States has chosen to be about halfway. The interceptors, if
we deploy an East Coast site, would be back in the United States and they would
be launching up over Canada to do intercepts up around Greenland in outer space.
Senator Wells: I have a quick follow-up.
The Chair: I did commit myself to Senator Dagenais, and we have about
three minutes left.
Senator Dagenais: Mr. Wilkening, China's People's Liberation Army is
thought to be pursuing a hypersonic weapon system capable of delivering a
warhead into united airspace. What are the potential impacts of hypersonic
weapons technologies on missile defence systems?
Mr. Wilkening: Hypersonic weapons do not fly on ballistic
trajectories. They come back down and they skip off the upper atmosphere, so
they sort of do a porpoise or dolphin kind of manoeuvre. As a result, you don't
have that long mid-course phase, so they do create problems for a mid-course
missile defence system.
There are ways to try to defend against such a system, but you tend to be
further back in the terminal phase or late mid-course when that last porpoise
manoeuvre ends, and then the hypersonic vehicle has to find its target and start
homing on it or aiming towards it.
You can shoot at it in that phase of flight, and you would probably be pretty
effective at defeating it, but because it's so late, time is short. Now your
defended area is small. If I want to defend a large area like the continental
United States, much less North America, I would have to have a lot of defence
sites. So it becomes very costly. But there's nothing in physics that says I
can't defend against a hypersonic glide vehicle. For all I know, you might be
able to get some shots on mid-course too, but this is a very new technology. The
Americans have looked at it. A newspaper report came out that the Chinese were
looking at it.
It's an interesting way to try to undermine mid-course ballistic missile
defences. A boost-phase system would work very well against that system. It's an
interesting way to undermine mid-course missile defence, but there are defensive
ways to attack that problem.
The Chair: Colleagues, it's two o'clock. I would like to thank our
witness for taking the time and being so candid with his answers. I think you
have given us a lot to think about. I know it has been very informative for all
Colleagues, we are continuing our study on ballistic missile defence, and we
are very pleased to have with us Steven Staples, President of the Rideau
Mr. Staples, welcome. I understand you're not unfamiliar with these types of
proceedings. Therefore, I would ask that you put forward your opening statement.
I want to let everyone know we have one hour for this panel, so please begin.
Steven Staples, President, Rideau Institute: Senator Lang, thank you
very much for the invitation. I would like to begin with a few formal remarks
and then I hope we can get into a good discussion. I had to hold myself back
from jumping up and helping him answer a couple of questions. I would have a
little bit of a different take on it, but I understand that you're looking at
all views of the debate, so I certainly appreciate that, that it will be a
well-informed report when you finish it and are able to submit it.
Thank you for inviting the Rideau Institute to participate in this discussion
today regarding Canada's role in the U.S. ballistic missile defence system. My
name is Steven Staples. I'm the organization's president. My colleague Bill
Robinson also contributed to this submission.
The Rideau Institute is an independent research, advocacy and consulting
group based here in Ottawa, founded in 2006. We are a federally registered
non-profit. We do not receive any money from the Department of National Defence
or Defence contractors.
In a previous movie, I was involved in the last debate on Canada's role in
the ground-based mid-course defence system, which I chronicled in the book, from
2006, called Missile Defence: Round One, published by Lorimer.
We argued for Canada to not join the ground-based missile defence shield, and
we supported Prime Minister Paul Martin's decision in February of 2005. It was
remarkable at the time that not one party leader in Parliament that day opposed
his decision, and most tried to claim the decision as their own victory. It was
a rare moment of unanimity in the House of Commons that day when they all stood
up and applauded the same decision that the government had made.
It's interesting to find out some of the backstory that has since evolved
around that very tumultuous time, around that huge debate. A lot of people are
beginning to forget, but it consumed the front pages for many months and years.
When Canada's defence minister at the time, Bill Graham, called Donald
Rumsfeld, his U.S. counterpart, to tell him it was a no on missile defence, he
got the equivalent of a shrug. Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, told Minister
Graham he was sympathetic to the political problem that GMD was causing in
Canada and said that the U.S. was going ahead and didn't need Canada
operationally anyway. Minister Graham summed up the conversation like this:
"Wolfowitz basically told me, 'We don't give a damn."' That's in Eugene Lang's
book called The Unexpected War. He had a front-row seat in all of that at
Of course, there are a lot of folks who were unhappy about that decision,
several of whom I have seen already make presentations to the committee over the
past couple of weeks, and I have been reading their comments with interest.
Others have been writing in the newspapers and lobbying on the Hill behind the
scenes recently, as I see from the lobby registrar.
Missile defence keeps stumbling along like the zombies on The Walking Dead.
At the time, the hawks argued that if Canada did not join the GMD system, either
some or all of the following would occur: NORAD would dissolve, our security
relationship with the Americans would worsen and the U.S. administration would
be so unhappy with us that we would suffer some kind of economic retribution.
All of it, of course, was nonsense.
Canada and the U.S. negotiated a new information-sharing agreement in 2004,
and NORAD continues today. In fact, our Chief of the Defence Staff, Tom Lawson,
before taking his current role as Chief of the Defence Staff, was Canada's
number one soldier in NORAD. He was not sent off to the wilds with some
unimportant command; he was taken from there and put right to the top seat.
Our security relationship with the United States has not changed over the
missile defence decision. In fact, our massive effort in Kandahar freed
thousands of U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan to go fight in Iraq.
At home, there was unprecedented binational security cooperation for the
Vancouver Olympics and the G8. There was a lot of cooperation going on there.
Finally, as far as our relationship with our number one trading partner goes,
we still have our agreements and our disagreements with the United States, but
there is obviously no evidence that there is a link between our defence
relationship and our trade with the United States. There is no linkage, as it's
Minister Baird should know that joining missile defence today is not going to
get the Keystone XL pipeline decided any faster.
Now, missile defence proponents argue that the ground-based mid-course
defence system has improved greatly over the last few years, and to hear some
people put it, it can score more goals than Wayne Gretzky.
Not so. First, the tests are completely controlled, they're scripted and
they're without any obstacles. It's pretty easy to score when there's no goalie.
But even then, the GMD system has failed to achieve hits in 8 of 16 intercept
tests since 1999, according to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's own published
statistics. So it has an empty net, and it still can't put a puck in half the
I have included the latest numbers on the tests from the Missile Defense
Agency. I provided that to the clerk, and it can be made available to the
The Chair: Can you do that?
Mr. Staples: Yes. We have them now.
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr. Staples: What's worse is that the system is becoming less
reliable, not more. The last three tests have failed, so there has not been a
successful test since President Obama moved into the White House. The last
successful test was back in December of 2008.
Some proponents fall into an easy trap in that they only look at whether it
will work, overlooking the most important question, which is, will it make us
more secure? The answer is no. In fact, missile defence systems that can target
intercontinental ballistic missiles are terribly destabilized. Let's be clear.
I'm not talking about systems like Israel's Iron Dome or the Patriots from the
First Gulf War. I hear some of those being conflated in the discussions; those
are completely different in their capabilities, size and implications. These are
smaller versions of what's sitting in those silos in California and Alaska, and
those smaller systems don't pose the same problems to international security.
The campaign we wrote about here was always about the ground-based mid-course
missile defence system, not the theatre systems. We're talking about
intercepting nuclear warheads in the vacuum of space launched from half a world
away. It's like hitting a bullet with a bullet. I'm sure somebody has said that
now in the presentations, and that's the system that is in question.
The GMD system has no deterrence capability, as some witnesses have asserted.
In fact, it upsets deterrence. It works against deterrence, giving one side an
advantage over the other. The country that has a shield cannot only fend off a
small first strike, but it can launch a first strike of its own and then
neutralize an opponent's counterattack with what remains of its arsenal. That's
why this system is an offensive system.
With such a poor performance record as we've talked about, you might wonder
why the Russians or the Chinese feel threatened by such a small system that
doesn't work half the time. It's because if you're a defence planner in Russia
or China, you have to assume that it will work, that it will work all the time,
and that it will improve. So despite its record, you have to assume this thing
You can imagine that a country without a shield will build more missiles,
will improve its missiles and will launch them more quickly in a crisis to try
to overcome a potential aggressor's defensive system. Two warriors armed with
only swords may never strike each other for fear of being killed by the other,
but if you give one warrior a shield, he can strike first with impunity and
defend whatever counterattack comes. That's why it's destabilizing.
Would the world be safer if China feels it needs to build up its nuclear
arsenal to match those of the U.S. and Russia? Why should Russia agree to
further nuclear reductions with the end of the Cold War after the U.S. withdrew
from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the ABM Treaty, and continues to put
missile defences right up to the borders in Europe?
The fundamental reason that missile defence won't work is not the technical
difficulties that plague the system, which are substantial. It's the fact that
missile defence deployment will lead to responses by those countries who feel
their forces are threatened by it. It's those responses that will ensure that
the missile shield doesn't work, and it's those responses that make missile
defence deployment more likely to undermine our security than to improve it.
So what are the alternatives? Diplomatic solutions pose a far greater chance
of success than these missile defence systems do. The New START treaty has
resulted in great strides in nuclear disarmament between the U.S. and Russia and
will bring the U.S. and Russia down to about 1,550 deployed warheads each —
still far too many, but an improvement nonetheless.
And consider Syria. We were on the brink of Western military intervention
because the red line of chemical weapons use had been crossed. But it was U.S.
and Russian cooperation that removed that chemical weapons threat, with the UN's
help, and although the tragedy of the Syrian civil war continues — by no means
am I trying to diminish the great suffering going on there — on the chemical
weapons count, it was a clear victory for human diplomacy over a military action
that would have been disastrous.
In preparation for my remarks today, I invited our community to contribute
comments for you and received more than 300 submissions in just a few days. Many
people are watching what is happening and are interested in this issue, and most
people felt that missile defence doesn't really address the security needs
they're facing out there today.
Paul Beckwith said that the risk of a missile strike is insignificant
compared to the risks to Canadians from abrupt climate change. Beth Johnson
added that we need to return to our role as peacekeepers while assisting the
less fortunate in Canada and around the world in achieving a reasonable,
sustainable way of living.
I hope we can discuss the costs, the potential contributions and the
technical problems of decoys that were touched on in the earlier presentation
during the discussion period.
Let me conclude with this challenge for you to consider: Canada's role in
missile defence is not a problem that needs fixing. In 2004, at the height of
the missile defence debate, one well-known political figure put it like this:
We need to know clearly the objective of this initiative, whether it is
technically feasible, exactly what role Canada would play, as well as the
potential costs and benefits, [and] the nature and length of any Canadian
Those are all good points that were raised in the house by then Opposition
Leader Stephen Harper. To my knowledge, this remains the Conservative Party's
I would urge you to consider these questions as well, and if they cannot be
answered satisfactorily, then I hope that your final recommendations will
suggest that Canada stay its current course outside of the U.S. ground-based
mid-course missile defense system. Thanks so much.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Staples. I want to say I
appreciate your bringing your position forward to the committee, and I also
appreciated the opportunity of having a few minutes with you and your colleague
a couple weeks ago.
Also, I do want to tell you that I read your book that you provided me. I
found it very informative, and I would recommend it to all members of the
committee, quite frankly. I felt it gave a perspective of what took place 10
years ago. That's the purpose of this committee today, to have another public
conversation on the question of ballistic missile defence and whether it is in
the interests of Canada to become more involved than we already are.
If I can ask one question before we move on, I want to refer to your book, if
I could, just to prove first that I read it and second that we can put something
on the record.
In your book, you state on page 140:
From our standpoint in Canada, neither the high cost of missile defence nor
its functionality was our chief concern. Our arguments against missile
defence focused mainly on the risk of provoking another nuclear-arms race
and the weaponization of space, in addition to the broader abandonment of
Canada's traditional support for arms control and peacekeeping.
This leads me to my question: In light of the last 10 years' experience and
the significant nuclear arms reduction that has occurred between the United
States and Canada, does the nuclear arms race remain your chief concern, as you
had given back in 2004?
Mr. Staples: Thank you for that great question. I also want to
recognize that the position of promoting nuclear abolition is shared by some of
the senators. I want to mention Senator Dallaire and Senator Segal, whom I have
noticed have made very good speeches and presentations on the need for nuclear
disarmament and getting rid of nuclear weapons. I'm sure it's also shared by
other members as well, and I want to note that.
That is right. That is, in part, why I wanted to make the distinction between
some theatre missile defence systems, those iron-dome systems and those things.
We see those as being quite different. We're talking about the ground-based
mid-course system, which is designed to erode the strategic capability of other
countries. Certainly those countries see it that way and respond in a fashion
that provokes an arms race, whether it's more weapons or not reducing them as
quickly or improving those nuclear capabilities. That's the kind of impact that
the ground-based mid-course missile defense system has on these countries.
You asked me where the evidence of this is, and I made reference that the New
START treaty that's currently in place is really amazing. I was privileged. I
attended the nuclear non-proliferation treaty preparatory review conference in
2012 in Vienna at the UN, and there was a presentation by those two teams — the
Americans and the Russians — that are responsible for implementing New START and
They had a warm repertoire between them. The Russians talked about visiting
U.S. nuclear facilities and climbing on board the ballistic missile submarines
and opening up the domes and lowering a rope with the weight down to see how
much distance there was to the top of the missile so they would know what kind
of missile was in there. Very simple ways of verifying what kinds of weapons and
how many were in those silos.
The Americans had similar stories of going to Russia and literally using skis
and snowshoes in wintry locations, checking the serial numbers on the missiles
to be able to account for each one of them. There is tremendous cooperation
But then the question of missile defence came up, and the tone changed. The
Americans tried to downplay it. Of course you know Obama has changed the
European system somewhat; he has a new name for it. It is spread out a little
bit more. It is not the same as what the Bush administration was proposing. It
involves more countries and more systems. They wanted to downplay it a little
bit, but you could clearly tell that the Russians felt challenged by this and
that this was an inhibitor to their moving on to further reductions.
It was very interesting, senator, to see it first-hand like that. I think it
does have that impact of eroding further reductions. As we heard from the
previous speaker, both the Russians and the Americans are still improving their
arsenals. We now have a new weapon in the U.S. coming: the B61 Mod 12,
modification 12, a new and improved nuclear weapon. And the Russians are doing
We are a long way off from that nuclear abolition that many of us want to
move the country and the world towards. The missile defence system, in my view,
is not helping.
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Dallaire: Remember that the British have made massive cuts in
their defence budgets at the tactical level, but they are going to invest 40
billion pounds in upgrading the nuclear capabilities of their submarines based,
I think, very much on the nuclear industry rather than an actual operational
requirement. That brings me to the argument you're saying that a deterrent
capability can escalate into a potential conflict, or the frictions between
potential adversaries and maybe even encourage proliferation.
It's a game of chicken here, and so the question is, to what level do we have
to be to give the other side a definitive picture that they're wasting their
money fiddling with that capability and they can either use other means or get
out of the business completely? I'm even including Pakistan in that.
Mr. Staples: Certainly in terms of Pakistan and India, there's a very
high risk of proliferation or an accident or use of nuclear weapons. It's a very
hot territory there.
Of course, our ground-based missile defence system is not really intended for
those kinds of weapons. I don't think they have the kind of range that China or
Russia would have, so I'm not sure that that actually factors into our equation
I think it's pretty clear that if we want to avoid a nuclear catastrophe in
South Asia, it would be a lot better to get a lid on those and get rid of those
nuclear weapons, if we could, and try to bring more stability and greater
cooperation there than trying to get missile shields built up.
In terms of the U.K., it was interesting, there is quite a debate going on
around the resumption of their Trident system. They have removed all their
nuclear weapons from their surface fleet, and they don't have any air-dropped
nuclear weapons anymore, the two parts of the strategic triad.
They are left with missile submarines; they're based in Scotland. Last April
I actually had a tour of that facility — well, I didn't go into the facility. I
was around the facility, on the River Clyde, just north of Scotland. It's a very
The Scots don't want those submarines there. They're very unpopular. It's
interesting that the Trident question has gotten wrapped up in the Scottish
independence movement. It has become one of those issues where the Scottish
National Party has become validly anti-nuclear and is connecting the removal of
those submarines with the independence movement. I think the polls say they have
a bit of an uphill climb, but it is a prominent part of the debate, amongst
other issues, of what the future is of that U.K. Trident system with regard to
A lot of people look at the ability to deploy one nuclear submarine at a
time, which is what the U.K. has. They have to have four submarines in order to
deploy one. What difference is that making out there? There's a lot of risk to
it. As you know, incredibly, one of those submarines collided with a French one
at the bottom of the ocean a few years ago. Two submarines were sitting in the
same area, and they actually ran into each other. What are the odds of that? You
would think that would be unthinkable. It is actually what happened. It's true.
Senator Dallaire: It's also interesting that they're keeping that
thing alive at the expense of 17 regiments of combat troops that could be used
in conflicts around the world and attenuating low-intensity conflicts.
I'm coming back to the argument of deterrence versus increasing the risk of
people wanting to continue to improve their capability.
What if the Americans don't necessarily want to launch their capabilities if
they know the target isn't their mainland? And it could be in the periphery,
even of Canada, as simply a gesture of horrific machismo and if not
one-upmanship, the unusual characteristic of countries like North Korea of
pushing the limit of what we can tolerate before we actually take action.
If we're not part of the system, will we potentially be left to fend for
ourselves in that circumstance?
Mr. Staples: It's a great question and one of the points that was
brought up early in the debate as to what Canadian participation meant and what
kind of security benefit Canada would get from participating in this system.
It was proposed at one point that Canada would have some say as to whether
those interceptors should be launched or not. Right now we participate in the
collection of data to say that a launch has occurred. Is it coming at us? Yes.
Where? Not sure. Is it Seattle or Vancouver? We might not be able to tell that
difference because it's a small space when you're traveling that great a
At the time, I remember Prime Minister Martin asking if there would be input
for Canada to decide whether to launch or not. What if there was a disagreement?
Right now it's an American finger on the button, not a Canadian one, and we had
There was some discussion on whether we would we have a few interceptors set
aside for use for Canada only. It started getting into this hypothetical
discussion and I think it was pretty clear that the security benefits to Canada
were not immediately apparent.
From what I have heard, I do suggest that you talk to some more rocket
scientists as we saw earlier. I mentioned Philip Coyle as someone who might be
of interest as the former head of the U.S. department's test and evaluation for
the Pentagon. He was also Deputy Director of Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory and can answer this more directly, but the time required to respond
is so short and you would need to make use of it pretty fast in order to get an
interceptor up into place. Whether or not they can discern the difference
between Vancouver and Seattle, I think they would shoot at anything that would
come and try to take it down.
Senator Segal: Thank you, Mr. Staples, for being here and for the
consistency and clarity of your position on this expenditure. You have taken the
position in the past that should the space-based interceptors pass, they would
be deeply problematic in terms of the balance between east and west. The
weaponization of space would be a horrific thing, and I think all of us would
agree with you on that. Now that the Americans have set aside the space-based
interceptor approach, does that in any way change your view of the
appropriateness of having some array of defence — not against the Russians as
you acridly point out — against rogue states with whom the application of
diplomacy might not be quite as constructive an option as has been the case
between the Russians and the Americans, at least insofar as the Reykjavik
agreement was and all the START progress you pointed out as being constructive?
Mr. Staples: I think that space weaponization, as our previous speaker
for the U.S. said, remains on the table. He said there is always discussion
about space weaponization. Is it imminent? Probably not. But is it an eventual
possibility if we begin to go down this road? Yes, I think it is, just because
of physics. A lot of the problems of trying to intercept these missiles in the
mid-course phase are solved by getting into boost phase. It's easier to
intercept. And all those associated problems with using sea-based and land-based
interceptors are also taken away if you are doing space-based interceptors.
The previous speaker was absolutely right. The cost and effort to put that
number of interceptors — thousands of them because they would be in lower Earth
orbit and are not geostationary and you would need to have so many up there — is
prohibitive. But I think it is a step in that direction in terms of trying to
put test beds into space. We've seen funding in the U.S. budget for test beds,
not to deployment but going in that direction, so I think it is very much a
question of taking that step, going down that road to the weaponization of
space. It certainly does provoke strategic arms improvements from some of those
You point is well-taken on the ability to negotiate with other countries that
are pretty far off the mark. But the likelihood vis-à-vis the cost and all the
other negatives, the potential benefit of maybe being able to make some limited
intercept capability for one or two missiles launched from a rogue nation versus
all of the negatives of arms control and nuclear proliferation and the
incredible costs, you've got to balance those out and I think that on balance,
it's not the way to go.
Senator Segal: In your response earlier you made reference to the
destabilizing risk of eroding the range of strategic options for Iran and Korea,
which might be produced by having this kind of system in place.
Do you not think, based on their performance to date in recent geopolitics,
that eroding those two countries' strategic options would be in the general
interest of the defence of Canada? Second, are you of the view that if we had a
DEW Line array that was part of Canada's contribution after the Bomarc debate
and the movement to missile-based systems — we never had any Canadian-based
intercontinental ballistic missiles aimed at anybody, but we had a DEW Line
array for surveillance — having an array of that nature, which assisted in the
overall intelligence gathering for any potential defence, would also be
Mr. Staples: On the DEW Line question, as we know, at the end of the
Second World War there was a threat from long-range bombers coming over the
Arctic to U.S. cities. We contributed to the standing up of NORAD. We were able
to provide territorial contribution to it in the several lines of radars, but as
soon as those systems were set up, along came intercontinental ballistic
missiles. You didn't need to drop bombs from planes anymore. You could oversee
the system through space, and that was when the first plans for missile defence
systems came into being. If we can shoot down planes maybe can shoot down
missiles, too. These plans go way back and have never gone away.
Instead we went the route of mutually assured destruction. We said that
rather than trying to put up defences of these things, if anyone makes a move it
will be annihilation on both sides. It was the opposite of the anti-ballistic
missile approach and brought in a treaty called the Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty, brought in 1972. It was torn up by George Bush in order to pursue this
Ground-based Midcourse Defense System you're discussing. All of these activities
going on now would have been prevented under that treaty, so it was the
Americans who walked away from the treaty in order to pursue the system, not any
other countries. Would Canada be involved in that? In some ways we are. The
information-sharing agreement in 2004 was important, more significant than a lot
of people realized at the time.
The change was that the information collected by NORAD, which is Canada-U.S.,
was allowed to be shared with other military commands, including Northern
Command, which is a U.S.-only command responsible for running the ground-based
mid-course missile defence system. So essentially the information gathered from
NORAD, watching for missile attacks, could be shared with those Americans who
are in some cases literally sitting down the row — because they are in the same
facility — to be able to push the button on the interceptors and launch those.
NORAD's future was assured; we were contributing in that way. Yet we weren't
part of the decision-making matrix to launch those missiles.
Do we need a ground-based missile defence radar system in Canada? No. There
are discussions now, and I think maybe that's in part what's prompting the
renewed interest — Congress has mandated the military in the U.S. to look at
other installations on the east coast. There are four sites being considered
now. All of them are like Maine and upstate New York, with none of them in
At the time, Raytheon Company, which makes the X-band radar, was sniffing
around Goose Bay as a potential radar site, as you know, and that was listed.
But I don't think the Americans need that location as a radar system for their
ground-based system. They have Thule, Fylingdales and other facilities that they
don't really need. So I don't think we need to go into that information-sharing
or intelligence-gathering route for this system.
Senator Day: Just for your information, one of our earlier witnesses
suggested that the Americans had chosen Portsmouth as the east coast radar
information gathering spot. I thought I would let you know about that. You can
check it out and see whether that's the case.
My question is somewhat technical, but I think it goes to the issue of this
mutually assured destruction you just mentioned and how that's upset when you
build a system to protect you. I would like to hear your comments on why it's
okay to have the Israeli Iron Dome type of system that protects their national
geographic area. Then we go to the Phased Adaptive Approach, which is the next
largest one, up in Europe. Then there is the final one, which seems to be the
largest missile defence system we're discussing regarding ground-based missile
When does it go from "okay to have a theatre defence" but "not good to have
this strategic defence"?
Mr. Staples: That's a great question. Understanding how these systems
work is important in determining what our political opinion should be about
These are highly technical systems, and I find in this debate that a critical
piece of information about how the technology works can change your opinion
about something, such as sovereignty and the fact that interceptors don't fly
over Canada but rather go into space. That's an important fact, because it gets
to those critical issues.
It is the same thing with the differences between these types of missile
defence systems. There are a lot of different ones out there. These
theatre-based systems, whether Iron Domes or otherwise, used to intercept small
rockets that may come out. The Patriots are medium-range missiles, and you
remember the SCUD busters from the Gulf War. They are one type of technology,
but they are not seen by countries that have large nuclear arsenals, like China
and Russia, as impacting their strategic ability to launch nuclear attacks — and
therefore the defence of their country and the protection that provides them.
I would put a caveat on that, though, because certainly the European Phased
Adaptive Approach system, which is a new system and one I'm not entirely as
comfortable with as I am with the ground-based mid-course missile defence
system, seems to be a bit of hybrid. It is a bit more than a theatre system. It
is going to evolve over time, and it will be using different interceptors —
sea-based and ground-based interceptors — a collection of interceptors.
But the Russians see it as eroding their strategic deterrent capability, so
much so that I think it was a Russian foreign minister — or some official — at
some point talked about moving their short-range missiles closer to the border
so they could hit the interceptor sites in Eastern Europe. So already we're
seeing — whether or not we believe it erodes their capability, certainly they
say they believe it, and they seem to be acting in that way.
That's when you start getting into the danger zone — namely, when you start
getting those global strategic destabilizing impacts. As Senator Lang mentioned
at the start of this, that has always been the nature of our concern about it.
There are other what you would call "terminal" — I guess that's a terminal
phased system, because you're intercepting it as the missile is coming in. We
have small-missile defence systems on our frigates, for instance, and they are
used to intercept a missile at the last minute as it is skimming across the
water on the way to a ship. We have no problems with that. It is called a
missile defence system. But it's the big ground-based mid-course missile defence
system that brings along all these destabilizing factors that we're concerned
Senator Dagenais: China's pursuit of anti-satellite capabilities poses
a direct threat to other nations' peaceful use of space. In 2007, for example,
China launched an anti-satellite ballistic missile that successfully destroyed a
Chinese meteorological satellite. In so doing, it created what has been
described as the worst single contamination of low Earth orbit in 50 years. Six
years later, on January 22, 2013, space junk created by this test is believed to
have been responsible for striking a small Russian satellite out of its orbit,
and it continues to threaten other objects orbiting Earth, including the
International Space Station.
Why have your critiques of space militarization been levelled at Canada and
the U.S. alone, when China has shown little restraint in pursuing programs that
threaten international civilian space programs?
Also, what are the prospects for international cooperation on the issue of
Mr. Staples: Everyone was alarmed when that test went off — when the
Chinese did their interception of that satellite. You correctly say what a
disaster that has been in terms of the amount of debris that test has created.
Mind you, that was not the only piece of debris up there; there was a lot of
debris from the Russian and American space programs over several decades, so
there is a lot of material already there. But that did increase it by a great
deal; I don't know exactly how large a per cent, but it was a lot.
It is of great concern, and I know many organizations have been involved in
trying to limit this kind of approach and to try to create "space security," as
it's called. I would congratulate the Canadian government and the Department of
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, which has had a very positive leadership
role in this question of space security. Canada contributes to the Space
Security Index, an annual accounting led from McGill University.
They look at a number of different factors and metrics in terms of whether
space security is improving or not. They look at a number of factors, including
global governance, cooperation, rules of the road, et cetera. Weapons are about
three of the 10 factors, as I recall. Anti-satellite weapons are one of them, as
is the ability to strike weapons from the surface, which is kind of the opposite
of the missile defence system, which would be to use missiles from space to
intercept objects as they're coming up through the atmosphere.
It is of great concern. Everyone is expressing concern about that. But, this
is where the weaponization of space comes from. If we move into weaponization of
space, including trying to intercept things that are in space that may be
related to a missile defence system, whether it's interceptors or satellites
being used as part of a ground-based mid-course missile defence system, these
are connected in a way. As space becomes more of a platform to fight wars, then
we could see more of this in the future. Space debris is getting a lot of
people's attention and is a major driving force in bringing people to the table
for international cooperation to prevent this kind of thing.
Senator Mitchell: Mr. Staples, this is very interesting. I would like
to explore the deterrence equation balance you were talking about earlier.
You're making the point, and it's a compelling illustration that the Viking with
the shield and sword might be more inclined to attack the opponent that just has
the sword. Consider that there is deterrence to the United States' attacking
North Korea or Iran. There are surrounding nations with which they are quite
friendly that would suffer a good deal of fallout. In the case of North Korea,
there's China, and you wouldn't want to provoke them with nuclear fallout. On
the one hand there is deterrence to the United States using their nuclear weapon
in some kind of precipitous fashion or even a retaliatory fashion. On the other
hand, there isn't much deterrence, if they had them, for Iran in some
circumstances or certainly North Korea, which seems particularly threatening, to
attack the U.S. In that context, it would seem to me, and this case has been
made to us in a compelling fashion, that the missile defence system doesn't
result in the kind of imbalance that you're talking about — quite the contrary.
Mr. Staples: Well, those are good points. I guess we need to think
about those unintended consequences that you mentioned. Not only would China be
threatened but certainly South Korea, where thousands of missiles from North
Korea would be able to rain down on Seoul and level the place. It seems there
are a lot of reasons that you wouldn't want to go into that kind of conflict.
Some people say, and you can take this for what you want, that it was the
nuclear capability of North Korea, one of the axis of evil. Look what happened
to Iraq, which was named as one of those three but didn't have nuclear weapons
as it gave them up in their program early on and did not have weapons of mass
destruction; and North Korea is listed on the same list, which says, "Well, we'd
better maintain our nuclear weapons because this may be the only thing keeping
the Americans out of our front door. The deterrence capability there may be that
they had a successful deterrence in that regard.
If the ground-based missile defence system continues to be improved upon,
they will continue to develop their weapons; but I think they probably will do
that anyway. They will probably continue to expand their range and ability. I
don't think whatever threat in the future that may pose remotely would justify
the kind of costs and expense, as I mentioned, of us joining in this missile
defence system at this time.
Senator Wells: The defence of one's territory or interests is
comprised of a suite of options and instruments, and it is in the defence. How
do you square removing one of those options when it comes to providing a greater
degree of safety and security for citizens?
Mr. Staples: I would have to look at it and ask whether these options
were making us safer. On balance we have to look at this and ask whether it
makes us more secure and improves the global situation. If a system like this
does not make us more secure and in fact makes us less secure, then I don't
think we should be pursuing it. That seems to be the logic.
We had the ABM Treaty in place. The U.S. walked away from it, but for many
years we agreed this was not a route we would pursue. We gave up land mines.
Canada was a leader in land mines. We are giving up our cluster munitions and
destroying our cluster bombs, even though we are not a full implementer of that
treaty. Canada has a history of looking at these things and saying that weapons
systems can cause more problems than benefits and they should get rid of them.
Missile defence would fall into that same category.
The Chair: I'll follow up on this as it is important for the record.
At the last hearing, we had information provided to us about the ballistic
missile program in Europe, where 27 countries have signed on and endorsed the
installation of that particular program. Following up on what Senator Wells has
said, why would we not in Canada take a more proactive involvement in view of
the fact that 27 countries in Europe feel it's to their benefit and will benefit
the security of their countries? Why would we be any different?
Mr. Staples: Those systems in Europe are designed to try to defend
European countries, so they are kind of under that shield.
Look closely at what kind of contribution these countries are making. They
may have given it an endorsement, but the financial costs they are bearing seem
to be very modest in terms of how many ships they're deploying with ballistic
missile capabilities and how much money they are contributing. I have done only
initial reading on the European system, but U.S. News had an article last
fall complaining that the U.S. is carrying the burden of this European system
and devoting a lot of money to it — much more than the Europeans seem to be
contributing to it. That's an evolving target.
I am concerned that Canada went into missile defence in Europe. I realize we
got into it because of our involvement in NATO, but I still think that in terms
of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System we should not be joining them.
Senator Mitchell: With respect to cost, Mr. Wilkening, who preceded
you here, suggested there might not be real costs to Canada in the sense that
the U.S. might not be inclined to deploy monitoring stations in Canada, let
alone any kind of actual weaponry. Given our history of procurement, it's never
going to happen anyway. You could argue that.
Are you saying that in the absence of cost, there would be two alternatives —
that we could negotiate with the U.S. to see if they could defend us in the
event that something were to happen? Or would you argue that we should go one
step further and actively try to influence them not to embark on this at all,
even though all the costs would be theirs?
Mr. Staples: In terms of costs, I find it curious that pro-missile
defence people argue it both ways. On the one hand, you hear that we're
freeloaders and not contributing enough to continental security, that we're
getting the benefits of the system so why aren't we paying for it?
Then the next day in the op-ed, and there was another piece by a senator who
used to be on this committee, it is said that there will be no cost to it as
they're not asking us to put in any money. Which is it? Is it going to cost us
money or is it free? The proponents seem unable to make up their minds on that.
I would I say, as our American speaker said, money is always appreciated.
Really, when you look at it, there is not much else that we could contribute at
this point. They don't need our territory. Our industry is still free to
participate in the system. There is no prohibition on Canadian companies bidding
on contracts and participating in contracts.
The result of the decision in 2005, as it was under Prime Minister Mulroney,
was the same thing. We're not participating in this. Companies can go ahead and
do what they want. It's the decision of the Americans to do it. We're not going
to be preachy about it, but, from our standpoint, we're not going to join that
At the same time, I would like Canada to support negotiations for the
elimination of nuclear weapons. Nuclear abolition is the ultimate answer to the
problems we're talking about. We should underscore that instead of missile
defence systems. I would dearly love to see Canada pick that up in the way we
did land mines and other similar issues.
The Chair: I would like to thank our guest here today. You've brought
a different perspective, and a very well documented perspective, I might add. I
would make an observation in respect to where we are from when this started 10
years ago to today. That's our reason for starting this public conversation, to
look at the security of Canada vis-à-vis the ballistic missile defence and the
other threats that are out there. There are some real threats. I don't think
there's any question from the perspective of any of our witnesses. It's a
question of how we confront those and plan to be able to deal with those threats
if they become reality.
It's an interesting hypothetical discussion. On one hand we say this
particular missile program is okay but the other is not. Really, when it comes
right down to it, if I'm in Edmonton and there's a missile threat, I'm really
not wondering which program it is. I want to know that someone has the ability
to arrest it if possible. I think you would feel the same way if you lived in
Edmonton at that time.
That's the other side of the coin. This is a situation where you have to plan
and make long-term decisions because you don't build this type of technology
overnight, nor install it overnight. It takes a long time coming.
I want to ask one question that has to do with the business side of the
equation vis-à-vis Canadians. In your book you talk about the fact that there
was a company — I believe in Montreal — that had a contract to participate in a
ballistic missile defence program, and it's alleged that because of the
decisions that were taken not to participate, that particular contract was
cancelled. I don't know how true that is, but to say that we can actively
participate may not necessarily be entirely accurate from the perspective of the
program itself. Perhaps you could comment on that before we close.
Mr. Staples: It's a highly prized program by the United States, and of
course they guard their technology very seriously. I will say, in a related
issue, you will remember a few years ago — this happened after the book —
Alliant Techsystems, ATK, tried to buy the space systems of MDA. Along with it
they were getting RADARSAT-2, the Canadarm and some critical, unknown technology
that was never really discussed. We do know that ATK was involved in the missile
defence system and in fact making missile boosters. We think that technology was
one of those pieces they wanted to acquire from MDA — we don't know for sure —
to put into their missile defence system.
We opposed that. I'm very happy that it was this government that made the
first stoppage of a foreign takeover in the history of the Investment Canada Act
since the 1980s. It was to protect Canadian sovereignty and technology and, in
effect, remove the possibility of that company's using it for missile defence.
That was another great day.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Staples.
Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence as
we continue our examination of ballistic missile defence.
We are pleased to welcome Major-General Christian Rousseau, Chief of Defence
Intelligence; and Craig Maskell, Director of Scientific Technical Intelligence,
from the newly established Canadian Forces Intelligence Command. There will be a
lot of initials there at one time or another, I'm sure.
Gentlemen, we look forward to your comments on this important subject. I
understand you have an opening statement. Please begin. We have one hour set
aside for this panel.
Major-General Christian Rousseau, Chief of Defence Intelligence, National
Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces:
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and senators, for the invitation this
afternoon. It is my distinct pleasure to address you today and to provide our
views on missile threats to Canada, as well as on broader security concerns we
have from a defence intelligence perspective.
As you said, I'm being accompanied today by Craig Maskell, Director of
Scientific and Technical Intelligence at Canadian Armed Forces Intelligence
Command. He will help me shed light on your technical questions.
Before talking about possible threats against Canada, as we envision them, I
would like to offer some context to my role as Head of Defence Intelligence and
Commander Canadian Armed Forces Intelligence Command.
The role of my team consists in helping the Department of National Defence
and Canadian Armed Forces make sound decisions in exercising their functions.
Whether we are conducting operations in the Arctic, offering support to the
Vancouver Winter Games, responding to a terrorist threat or carrying out
overseas military operations, the Canadian Armed Forces need the latest and most
accurate intelligence in order to achieve their military objectives and
guarantee the security and protection of their personnel.
Defence intelligence is also instrumental in enabling the Government of
Canada to make informed decisions on issues of defence, national security and
foreign affairs. In exercising our mandate, I can say with pride that our
intelligence capability is world-class and that we offer the tools — 24 hours a
day, 365 days a year — that our leaders need to gain an intelligence advantage.
May I say again that intelligence is the main factor in operational success.
We are getting exceptional support in this area from our international partners.
Defence intelligence employees, whether they be collectors or analysts, are
closely linked to and communicate on a daily basis with their counterparts in
the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, not to mention
NATO intelligence staff. Thanks to our efforts in sharing our work, there is no
part of the world that we cannot quickly evaluate or understand. Given the
dangers inherent to military operations, our goal is to keep our commanders and
directors informed at all times. Thus, we operate as much as possible on the
principle of "responsibility to share" rather than "need to know".
I should also stress that we benefit from productive relations with our
national partners. In particular, our collaborative relationship with the
Communications Security Establishment and the Canadian Security Intelligence
Service remains exceptional. These two organizations have been essential to our
operations over the past decade, and we are continuing to develop ways of
assisting each other.
You and the Canadians whom you represent can be sure that our intelligence
organizations are working to promote the interests of this country with respect
to defence and security.
Now, as to the subject at hand, over the past months you have heard testimony
from a number of very smart people on what, in their view, the most pertinent
security challenges to Canada were. While I certainly do not undervalue the
terrorist threat or the danger of radicalization, as the Chief of Defence
Intelligence, I focus the vast majority of my energies on foreign military
threats and support to Canadian Forces operations abroad.
We define threat as a combination of intent and capabilities. Having the
desire to harm Canada but no capability to do so does not represent a threat
from that entity. Having discerned the intent to harm Canada from a foreign
actor, the job of the intelligence apparatus will be to track any advancement in
its capabilities and recognize when that entity becomes a threat.
Similarly, having military capabilities against which Canada does not or
cannot defend does not constitute a threat if there is no intent. If we were to
identify that a foreign actor possesses capabilities that could be used to harm
Canada, the more subtle intelligence problem is to identify changes in intent.
With that definition in mind, I can say that, at this time, we do not see a
state actor that has both the capabilities and the intent to harm Canada
militarily. As hinted above, tracking or predicting changes in capabilities is
sometimes challenging but usually possible within a reasonable margin of error.
Gauging current and evolving intent is more complicated but still possible.
Predicting future intent and staking one's security on that prediction is highly
risky. Where a state may not exhibit hostility while it is developing a
capability, once acquired, that capability remains in its arsenal whatever
changes happen to its political calculus or intent.
In this vein, we view the proliferation and potential use of weapons of mass
destruction and ballistic missiles against the North American continent as very
worrisome. Key states of concern, such as Iran and North Korea, will likely
continue in their attempts acquire, develop and improve weapons' ballistic
missile capabilities. Current trends indicate that ballistic missile systems are
becoming more mobile, reliable and accurate, while also achieving longer ranges.
While we see positively the recent concessions by Iran on its ostensibly
civilian nuclear program to cease production and reduce its stock of
intermediate enriched uranium caused by Iran's need for relief from economic
sanctions, it is clear that Iran has pursued activities that could be applied to
Iran also possesses the largest and most diverse ballistic missile force in
the Middle East region. Its current missile arsenal lacks the range and
complexity to strike at targets within North America. The capabilities of the
Iranian ballistic missile delivery systems are likely to continue to improve and
grow more complex over the next decade. While Iran continues to grow and develop
its capability, there is no current indication that Iran intends to target North
America as a first-strike option.
The case of North Korea is different. It has expressly indicated that it
wants to be able to target North America with its nuclear-armed missiles. So
far, it has demonstrated its ability to detonate a nuclear device, having tested
at least three devices. The success of the tests is open for debate as the
yields were quite low. Only the third test, in February 2013, with an estimated
yield of around five kilotonnes, would indicate a partial success. This is a
relatively low yield for a first weapon. We believe that North Korea has been
working on nuclear weapons for many years, but whether or not they have
developed a practical weapon is unclear.
North Korea has also been actively developing intermediate-range ballistic
missiles and its KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile, which could
potentially reach North America. Some of our partners in the region, such as
Japan, the Republic of Korea and Australia, are assessed to be in range of the
KN-08 ICBM. While there are still questions as to the reliability and the
accuracy of the missiles, there is clear intent to continue to perfect them.
So what does this mean for the security of Canada and Canadians? What are the
appropriate policy steps, if any, that should be taken to improve our national
defences? As an intelligence adviser, it is not my role to answer these
questions. My role is to provide our leaders with the most honest and complete
information possible on the threat, and this is what Mr. Maskell and I are here
for this afternoon. We look forward to your questions.
The Chair: Thank you very much. Before I move to my deputy chair for
the questioning, I would just like to ask one question with respect to your
overall role in intelligence, in view of what's taken place over the last 10
years, from 2004 to now. With the developments that we read about in North Korea
and in Iran, are the threats from those particular countries more so now than 10
years ago because of the technology that they have been able to acquire and been
able to develop, from your perspective as an intelligence officer?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: Absolutely, sir. Thank you for the question. It
goes to the heart of the matter. Regarding the threat consisting of intent and
capabilities, if I talk specifically about the capabilities, North Korea has
worked very hard in the last 10 years first on developing the nuclear weapons
they could put on a missile and then on developing and testing missile
technology. On both sides of the capability spectrum, they have developed quite
a bit. In a second, I will give Mr. Maskell the floor to give you potentially
some of the details.
Likewise, on the Iranian side, although the nuclear weapon program has gone
in fits and starts and, for all intents and purposes, has been stopped for six
months as they continue to negotiate with the PT5+1, they still have developed
and continued to develop work on a program over the last 10 years. Their missile
technology has improved over the last 10 years — nowhere near to be able to
reach North America, but they have worked hard at continuing to develop it.
Craig Maskell, Director of Scientific Technical Intelligence, National
Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: I would like to give a few technical
details about some of the systems and capabilities that we are seeing being
developed in both Iran and North Korea.
As General Rousseau indicated in his opening statement, both of these
countries are posing what we call threat capabilities. They fall into two main
areas: the warhead itself — i.e. a nuclear weapon; and the ability to deliver it
at long ranges. In the case of North Korea, they've tested at least three
nuclear weapons, bombs or "devices," as we like to call them. The most recent,
about a year ago, February 2013, had a yield, or an explosive power, of about
five kilotonnes. To compare, the Hiroshima blast in 1945 yielded about 15
kilotonnes; the Halifax explosion in 1917 about two to three kilotonnes; and the
most explosive non-nuclear explosion ever was about five kilotonnes. That gives
you a ballpark figure as to the yield. Current nuclear warheads are capable of
many megatonnes much greater explosive capability.
North Korea has tested; a number of monitoring stations through the world
have verified the test. That's the nuclear weapon coming out of North Korea.
North Korea is developing a delivery capability. They have two main missiles.
One is the so-called KN-08. We believe it will have an intercontinental range,
although to date we've seen only parades in which we have seen probably
mock-ups. The KN-08 has not been flight tested yet.
The other system has been tested and flown. It's called the Taepodong-2 or
TD-2, a space launch vehicle used to launch satellites into orbit. We do not
assess that North Korea is intending to use this particular rocket to launch
warheads at an intercontinental ballistic range, but what is important is that
they are using the TD-2 as a test vehicle to verify technologies that would
likely find their way onto other systems, multiple stage rockets, different
types of engines and very accurate guidance and control.
On the other hand, Iran has not tested a nuclear weapon or device. As the
general mentioned in the opening statement, Iran is following an agreement that
was reached with the P5+1 nations in November of last year to draw down its
enrichment program, that is, the program they need to take raw uranium through
to a weapons grade. That is currently being monitored by the International
Atomic Energy Agency.
Iran currently does not have any long-range ballistic missiles that could
reach North America, but Iran has the Middle East region's most diverse and
potent arsenal of ballistic missiles, short-range and intermediate-range.
The Chair: I wish to ask one more question and then I want to refer to
North Korea, if I could. It's a regime that is basically isolated from the rest
of the world, and yet we're talking about the development of nuclear
capabilities that most places in the world don't have. Where do they get that
expertise to do this and to put it into effect if they are as isolated as most
reports say they are?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: I will start with that one. At the end of the Cold
War, if you remember, there was quite a bit of discussion about what we would do
in the West to deal with these nuclear scientists and other weapons experts who
were highly paid or quite busy during the days of the Cold War in terms of
keeping them employed with enough pay that they would not be attracted to work
for rogue regimes or terrorist organizations or anything like that. Our view is
that some of those regimes that actually did manage to acquire some technology,
whether it's ballistic missile technology or nuclear technology, may have got it
from some of those scientists who earlier had been paid by countries that were
recognized nuclear powers.
Senator Dallaire: The question I have is in regard to the threat
assessment. You've articulated the ones we expected to hear. However, I'm going
to take it from an angle of nuclear proliferation. What about countries that go
rogue, or terms of that nature, or that change their focus and orientation? I'm
looking at Pakistan, in particular, and any such-minded countries of the area.
Is there any sign of their wanting to build or being capable of building, in a
short period of time, a more capable delivery system? This also brings in China.
We know the ballistic missile defence system is not aimed at China this week,
but if something really doesn't turn right, God knows what happens. With China's
capabilities with regard to potential to have intercontinental ballistic
capability, to what extent are they on land and to what extent are they building
at sea in that regard?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: To come to the first issue of proliferation, the
two countries that I mentioned so far are both people that proliferate but also
that benefit from proliferation in terms of getting information to be able to
move their program.
The nuclear program of Pakistan, from our point of view, and of India,
because it's always a duo, is very much focused on the region, basically to deal
with China. All of their development efforts are towards dealing with China, and
we see no effort to try to develop intercontinentally or anything like that to
go outside the region. On the contrary, we see them trying to get more localized
control. Even if their intent changed, right now their capability is not going
in that direction.
In terms of China, China is approaching the security of their nuclear arsenal
or the delivery system from a different angle from Russia. Russia is very much
looking at overwhelming any system by having so many warheads going that you
could not, in a reasonable way, stop them.
China has actually chosen to keep its deterrent to a minimum level that
remains credible. They are actually developing more sophisticated re-entry
vehicles that would defeat any possibility of a cost-effective BMD, but without
developing so many missiles as the Russians have done.
Mr. Maskell: China is interesting. Along the lines of developing
quality systems, perhaps not nearly as many as Russia, China has initiated
remarkable modernization of its military forces, not only conventional but
they're also developing technologies that will enhance their ballistic missile
China has far fewer nuclear weapon warheads compared to Russia. However, they
have a capable space-launch industry and military research and development.
Interestingly, they're attempting to develop technologies that would circumvent
ballistic missile defence capabilities.
You may have heard of the hypersonic glide vehicle. This would be a highly
manoeuvrable system that would carry a warhead, and potentially it could avoid
defence or interception by ballistic defence missiles.
China is also modernizing its submarine fleet, and although they don't have
submarine-based intercontinental ballistic missiles yet, their near-range or
intermediate-range capability is potent.
I'll mention one or two. For example, their JL-2 system is a
submarine-launched ballistic missile that would have a range of up to 8,000
kilometres. So you can imagine a very long standoff distance from the North
American continent in such a case.
China currently has about 100 warheads, and we expect that to grow to greater
than 100 within the next five or ten years.
Senator Dallaire: We are aware that the Chinese are working hard on
stealth, stealth aircraft in particular. Is it in the realm of possibility that
the missile, the warhead, could become stealth post-launch? Is that in any way,
shape or form in the realm of technical anticipation in the years to come?
Mr. Maskell: Simply, no, senator. The warhead itself, no; a hypersonic
glide vehicle, perhaps used to avoid interception, but the system itself, writ
Senator Dallaire: My question was about trying to pull more out of
that hyper side.
Mr. Maskell: That would be one possible approach. Certainly China and
Russia are attempting that.
Another way to, let's say, initiate a surprise attack would be to launch
ballistic missiles from road mobile systems, what we call TELs, transporter
erector launchers. Those are much more difficult to detect because they are
mobile rather than land-based fixed or silo-based systems.
Senator Segal: I wanted to thank our guests for being here and ask
them to reflect specifically on Pakistan, Iran and China in the context of this
I understand and appreciate your definition of a real threat being a
combination of intent and capacity. But, as we have seen in various parts of the
world, both who is in charge of a particular government, where the transitional
capacity may be, and who is in charge of the nuclear capacity — for example, in
Pakistan at any particular time — might add an instability factor to the issue
of threat. That, I think legitimately, should be a matter that I'm sure you and
your colleagues in the field try to address as best you can, but it has an
implication for how our allies, and we, need to be prepared.
For example, Iran may impose one set of constraints upon itself by virtue of
the present negotiations. In a recent budget brought before the Iranian
parliament there was a specific line item relative to financing terrorist
activity around the world. It's called something else but it's very explicit.
The notion that skill sets that produce instability are transmitted through
Hamas or Hezbollah or the revolutionary guard in various parts of the world,
including our own hemisphere, is something that I don't think any security
intelligence forces would be in any way naive about.
The Chinese have been precise about their view of the South China Sea.
Notional allies of ours, the Japanese, the Malaysians, competitors in the
region, the Indians, any of those who were the subject of a Chinese attack would
produce a serious dynamic for Canada about our normative, legitimate interests
in the region.
I'm interested in asking whether you might be prepared to share with us how
you bring those calculations to bear into the larger frame of intent plus
capacity, which is a very helpful definition, but clearly the folks in charge of
the nuclear arsenal in Pakistan, in the event of massive instability, may have a
very different intent from the government with which we try to deal as we speak.
The same thing would be true in Iran.
While the Chinese circumstance appears to be more stable, particular areas of
sensitivity, like the South China Sea, can produce a rapid change in that
stability. I'd be interested — and I'm sure colleagues would be — in your
sharing with us how you try to factor some of those nuances into what I'm sure
is a complex assessment that you have to make on an hour-by-hour basis for the
folks you serve.
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: You have captured the difficulty here. To use the
vernacular, capabilities take years of investment: sending people to university,
plants so you can see intent. Intent changes with a car accident. You have a new
regime, you have a new intent.
In the case of the three countries you mentioned, Pakistan, Iran and China,
we're looking at how bounded their capabilities are, not just now but in the
As I mentioned earlier, Pakistan does not try to develop intercontinental
ballistic missiles. They have no program and they're not sending people to
university to learn about this. Their capabilities, for all intents and
purposes, are bound in time until they decide to invest in that, and then we
will try to capture that.
So the question of intent, as opposed to the threat to our allies that we
also care about, the threat to Canada from Pakistan of a country-sponsored,
state-sponsored attack is not only non-existent now but non-existent in the
foreseeable future. That could change.
With Iran, we do not have the same view. Although it doesn't exist now, we
know they have programs that try to get there. We are no longer just holding the
card of intent. The card of intent now becomes very interesting or subtle
because we know that they'll have the capabilities.
With respect to China, because they already have the capabilities to reach
North America if they wanted to, it's really a question of intent. We assess the
intent of China at this time to be very regional. Yes, they would threaten our
allies from there, but to the question of whether there is a threat in the
region in the short term or a threat to Canada, we don't assess that that is the
Now, they certainly want to put themselves in a situation where if they felt
threatened, if they decided to have what they see as an internal political
decision to unite China, they want to make sure that other actors like the
United States would not be in a situation to stop that. Most of their military
modernization program has been towards making sure that they would have denial
capabilities or capabilities to assert control over the region, even if others,
such as the U.S., were trying to stop them.
There is no intent of global domination or anything like that from the
Chinese that we can detect, and it wouldn't make sense in the long term to get
Senator Segal: I have a small supplementary question.
The Chair: A small one, Senator Segal.
Senator Segal: Mr. Maskell, assuming there's no present intent on the
part of the Chinese, the reason for having a submarine that can fire a ballistic
missile 8,000 miles off the target, without having any intent, would be just in
case or just because they can? What am I missing here?
Mr. Maskell: Certainly, China has not demonstrated, as the general
says, intent to attack, intent to strike first. China has very much a deterrence
posture, and they would like to prevent an attack on their homeland. This has
prompted China to develop a number of military systems, not only submarines but
aircraft, continuing their ballistic missile capabilities.
Senator Segal: Cutting steel in the navy faster than anyone else?
Mr. Maskell: Well, they're certainly doing that, senator. They have an
incredible program. They also have significant satellite and space-based
capabilities, so China is encompassing a broad range of military capacities and
capabilities. What we don't see is the intent to use those.
North Korea, on the other hand, has publicly stated that if they have the
capability, they intend to use it. So certainly there is a vast difference
between countries such as China, perhaps more stable than North Korea.
Senator Mitchell: My first question concerns the possibility — and
maybe you can give us an assessment of this — that Russia has deployed nuclear
warheads in other countries that might be somewhat stable at this point, some of
the "stans," but in fact could destabilize. Is that a measured risk or a risk
that you measure?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: Russia does not need to deploy nuclear weapons
anywhere else in its territory. The nuclear triad, if you will — delivery
through intercontinental missiles, through missiles launched from submarines or
from aircraft — allows them to easily overwhelm any U.S. or NATO system without
having to worry about moving them to other countries.
So in terms of the risk calculation for them, whether they would allow
weapons to fall into the wrong hands in a country that they don't completely
trust, the calculus would just not be there.
Senator Mitchell: My other question is, we've received some competing
testimony that on the one hand there's a suggestion that Canada might be
required, in collaborating with the U.S. on ballistic missile defence, to put in
monitoring stations, yet there is no suggestion that we would actually build
silos here with rockets in them. On the other hand, there is some suggestion
that the U.S. wouldn't need to do that and isn't even contemplating it.
Can you give us any insight into whether there is any sort of concreteness to
the idea that there is a cost to Canada for cooperating? And if not, then that
raises the question of how you guarantee that the U.S. would be concerned enough
to stop rockets coming at us. Could you give an assessment of that at all?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: I can certainly try to address part of the issue
you're talking about.
In terms of the cost of defensive systems, where they would need to be
located and how they would be commanded and controlled, that's not my area; I
can't help you with that. I understand you will be visiting NORAD at some point
in the future, and I think that would be a good question for them. They would
probably have a better view on this.
What I can say, though, is that early in the launch, as we try to detect the
threat, whoever is looking at that missile would not know where it's actually
going to land. If you want to deal with it, do you wait until you actually know
where it's going to land or do you deal with it earlier on? I think that would
be a rather good question for NORAD.
Senator Dagenais: According to The Military Balance: 2014,
Pakistan builds 10 nuclear weapons a year, making it the most rapidly expanding
nuclear weapons power on Earth. Its plutonium production is such that by 2020 it
could possess the world's fifth-largest nuclear arsenal. In addition to being
able to threaten neighbouring India with ballistic and cruise missile attacks,
some believe Pakistan may be considering development of an intercontinental
ballistic missile of even greater range, known as Taimur.
By comparison with North Korea and Iran, how do you assess the threat posed
by Pakistan's nuclear weapons delivery capability? What about the proliferation
threat posed by Pakistan?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: Thank you. Certainly, we do have concern with
Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in terms of its security and in terms of the
decision-making process of the government or the military, whichever one thinks
they are in charge that month.
We very much see their psyche in the way they're building it, that it is very
much dealing with India. We do not see signs of them trying to develop
intercontinental capability to reach North America at this time.
Now, you asked about the issue of counter-proliferation. We do have some
concerns that some of the capabilities that have been proliferated to Pakistan
could be proliferated elsewhere as well, but for Pakistan itself, although it's
a great threat to India and there is a significant or not negligible threat to
the understanding of the control of this — it is a priority of the government to
keep control of its nuclear weapons — it's an area that is less comfortable than
Mr. Maskell: I have nothing more to add.
Senator Day: Thank you. I would like to talk a wee bit, gentlemen,
about non-state actors and what you're doing from that point of view. So much of
our concentration has been on rogue states and state action, but who initially
develops the capability doesn't necessarily have to be the one who actually uses
this capability later on. Some non-state actors could well acquire — you talked
about one of them, I think, Mr. Maskell — the transporter-type launching device.
I can envisage that being acquired by some non-state actor, whether for
ideological reasons or for entirely personal reasons of trying to acquire some
extra money from some state. You can think of a lot of different reasons why a
non-state actor might get involved in threatening and, in fact, pulling the
trigger on one of these. What are you doing to determine who might be involved
in this possibility?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: This is the other dimension we mentioned before
where there is absolute intent and the question is whether we have capabilities.
Knowing that some non-state actors are avowed to find a way to have a hammer
over the West, trying to get weapons of mass destruction and a delivery system,
we check very rigorously how their capabilities move.
For the case at hand of missile threat to North America, which basically
means intercontinental missiles, for a non-state actor that would be in an
ungoverned space because if it's in a governed space it's a state actor to be
able to do that. The technological requirements are such that we don't envisage
in the foreseeable future a non-state actor being able to have intercontinental
missile capability delivery methods. Non-state actors can have rockets that,
from a neighbouring country, can hit, but the idea of having intercontinental
missiles even from a mobile system is not in the realm of possibility for now.
Mr. Maskell: There certainly have been examples of non-state actors
using threat weapons or capabilities. Hezbollah comes to mind using
Iranian-based weapons, but again very short-range, typically rockets, certainly
not with intercontinental ballistic range. We're concerned generally about all
types of weapons of mass destruction. Chemical and biological, for example,
could be threat capabilities that non-state actors, if they were to use WMD, are
more likely to use than they are nuclear or ballistic missile-based systems.
Senator Day: To follow up on that, Mr. Chair, surely a rocket that
goes from one country to another today is a rocket that will go further in the
next five years. You must be doing some planning about this. The next twin tower
attack is not going to be a plane flying into the twin towers. It will be a
missile or a rocket of some sort from somewhere. Is that just futuristic work
that you will deal with sometime? Are you waiting for this to happen, or is this
part of your mandate now?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: We're certainly not waiting for something to
happen. This is what we do for a living, in terms of looking at where the state
of the threat systems are, who owns them, who proliferates what to whom. We are
not just waiting for something to happen.
In the case specifically, as you mentioned, of a missile that is only 500
kilometres this year and will it be 5,000 kilometres next, for each class of
missiles — and Mr. Maskell can talk more specifically in a second — there are
physical limits as to where it can go. To be able to do intercontinental, you
need to go into space. You need multi-stage rockets and you need to understand
how to do re-entry, how to do precision on the other side. It's vastly more
difficult to do than rockets that do not do that. So we don't see the
qualitative or the threshold to be able to do that being possible by a non-state
actor in the near future.
Mr. Maskell: Even in terms of today's short-range capabilities or
systems being developed into long-range, what typically happens is the countries
that are developing missiles have a series of different classes of programs, so
one program is focused on short-range, another program on long-range. You might
have a program looking at intercontinental ranges. I mentioned that KN-08
earlier, so North Korea has a very distinct program that will develop that
weapons system. It is unlikely that that system, for example, would be
accessible by rogue non-state actors, and almost certainly even if it was
acquired could not be programmed or operated in such a way to have an effective
Our main concern is looking at all actors, both state and non-state.
Fortunately, the United Nations has put into place a number of proliferation
control regimes. For example, the Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR,
certainly limits the exports from the producing countries and in fact prohibits
exports of a certain class of rocket and warhead size.
Many countries have signed up to these. Some have not, though, North Korea
being an example.
Senator White: Thanks to both of you for being here. I appreciated the
description about intent and ability, in particular when we talk about North
Korea. I am trying to get my head around this; at some point in time, if it's up
to North Korea, I would suggest that both intent and ability will match and they
will attempt something. When we talk about this ballistic system, would you
suggest that we should be on the inside of that when it occurs rather than
hoping to get into that as it's about to occur, regardless of timelines?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: Absolutely, sir. I think this is very apropos.
This is why we are having these discussions. This is about the response to the
threat. I'm quite comfortable in describing the threat and where the threat is
going. The response, whether we need to and how we defend against this,
proactively or not, I would leave to other people that you could bring forward
On North Korea specifically, if they could, they would absolutely acquire
that now. If there was not the proliferation regime in place, they would have
acquired the weapon by now because they don't spend money on feeding their
people. They spend money on the military.
The question of intent with North Korea is an interesting one because you
think surely if you're going to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile to
North America, you expect there will be a response and you will be obliterated,
and no one in their right mind would do that. I'm not sure how North Korea's
leadership decides, fits that category.
Senator White: Back to my question, if I may, my point is that I think
everybody agrees with exactly what you just said. But at what point in time do
we get into this game knowing that that's going to occur and we may be one of
those people saying, "Please shoot that out of the sky before it hits us,"
rather than being a part of it where we know that whatever capability is there
is going to assist or at some point try to make us safer?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: In terms of response to the threats, I will leave
that to others, but we are in there in terms of understanding what goes on in
Korea. Dr. Maskell's team has experts on the nuclear side, into missiles and
space, and these guys and gals contribute with the U.S., NATO partners, Five
Eyes partners to understand the threat. There is a bit of burden sharing where
our guy is particularly good at something, and he or she will do that specific
bit that will all fit together. In terms of the understanding of the threat,
we're not falling behind, we're not waiting for somebody to tell us that there's
a threat. We're there.
Senator White: In terms of response to the threat, though, should we
or should we not —
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: I would suggest, sir, that —
Senator White: If you don't wish to answer, I understand that.
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: You should possibly invite our ADM of policy, Jill
Sinclair, who would probably be the right person to talk about what the proper
response to this would be.
Senator White: Thank you very much.
Senator Wells: I believe we had Ms. Sinclair here at one of our
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: But not on this topic.
Senator Wells: Right; that's true.
Thanks for your presentations thus far. As we and our allies move forward, we
try to frustrate those states that are trying to acquire nuclear weapons. We
have agreements with those that already have such weapons, or we're collegial on
some level such that we're not targets. Failing those two things, a ballistic
missile defence and other options exist.
With all that, what should we fear? What else is there? We have partnerships
or agreements with states that have nuclear weapons. We try to frustrate those
that don't and that would have negative intentions toward us, and we have some
defences as well. What other concerns should we have outside of those?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: We work hard at understanding the threat, and we
are with partners to understand the threat. How we actually then deal with them
— it would not be a surprise to you that the U.S. has a significant arsenal, but
they don't fit the intent portion. For about 200 years, we haven't actually been
How we actually move with those countries that we see with that intent and
capabilities — I can tell you about their capabilities and whether I think their
intent is moving. But the question of how to deal with them, whether it's
through cajoling or frustrating them through sanctions — I guess I'm the wrong
person to ask those questions of.
I'm not trying to evade the question, but I'm just not sure there is anything
from the threat side with which I can help your debate.
Mr. Maskell: In the context of international relationships and
partnering with countries, and these proliferation control regimes, I might
suggest that the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, as
Canada's authority in these relationships, would be a suitable witness to
provide you with more insight into the diplomatic channels and non-military
approaches, and to give you a status on the efficacy or effectiveness of the
international control regimes.
Senator Wells: Thanks. That's helpful.
The Chair: I'm wondering if we can maybe turn our attention to an
issue that's very current, and that's the question of Ukraine and your
responsibilities to analyze the threats emanating from that part of the world.
First of all, I have a question for Mr. Maskell. There was the Treaty on the
Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and, in 1994, the Budapest Memorandums on
Security Assurances. Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and I believe
France gave assurances to Ukraine that if they did away with their nuclear
arsenal, their sovereignty would be respected.
Can you confirm that such nuclear capabilities for Ukraine were dismantled?
Mr. Maskell: Yes, I can. As you suggest, Ukraine inherited from the
former Soviet Union a significant arsenal of nuclear warheads and ballistic
missile capabilities. By 1996, all of those capabilities had been returned to
Russia or had been destroyed in situ. Most of the weapons were returned. I
believe the fraction was very small regarding those that were actually destroyed
in the country.
As of now, Ukraine does not have an intercontinental ballistic missile
capability; they don't even have an intermediate-range ballistic missile
capability. Ukraine does have ballistic missiles, but they are what we call
tactical or short-range, which is typically a 200-or 300-kilometre maximum
range. They also have a Russian S-200 long-range air defence system. That is
another capability that has been brought into their military over the last few
Interestingly, Ukraine depends on nuclear power for its civilian energy
resource; in fact, about half of the country's electrical service is supplied by
nuclear power plants.
That's where Ukraine stands currently in terms of their military and civil
The Chair: Colleagues, I would like turn to Major-General Rousseau
further on the question of Ukraine, in view of the current crisis we face.
I wonder if you would like to make some observations on how you see the
threat in respect to the way Russia has conducted itself. What do you see at the
end of the day as far as their endgame is concerned?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: This has been very topical in the last five days.
We've been poring over imagery and maps and are trying to decipher what the game
is — by "game," I'm not saying that we don't take it seriously — where President
Putin is going with this, because he is very much the person making the
decisions around this.
We see the Russian troops going into Crimea, essentially at the request of
the local government — but really Russian forces above the agreed level going
into Crimea and, without firing a shot, having established complete Russian
control over Crimea.
The Ukrainian forces that were in that area have folded, gone home. There are
still three garrisons that have refused to lay down their arms. The Ukrainian
commander of the navy that was in Crimea has now switched his allegiance to the
Government of Crimea — not to Russia; he still flies the Ukrainian flag — but
the allegiance to the Government of Crimea, which is now very much a friend that
invited Russia in.
I don't think there's any doubt that Russia — President Putin — has actually
used military force for political purposes in this.
Senator Dallaire: No one can understand what the huge fleets and the
amount of Russians in Crimea of that deployment — Ukraine seems to be on edge.
I'm coming back, if I may, to NATO and to the ballistic missile defence
capability deployed by the Americans in Europe. It is a sort of NATO capability.
How come they have not asked us to participate in that aspect? Article 5 could
be used in regard to the idea that a threat against one is a threat against all.
We've deployed in Europe extensively in the past. We're doing other NATO things.
Why haven't we been asked to join in that effort, so that you'd have a
full-fledged NATO response, which would include us in the discussions and also
maybe in terms of capabilities? I know we haven't got Patriots or advanced
Patriots, but there may be other capabilities that we could provide.
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: That is very much a "why" question, which is to
say a policy question. I can speak specifically to the threat to Europe. As you
probably know, because it was formally announced by NATO, NATO has deployed some
Patriot missile batteries in Turkey to deal with the situation in Syria. Europe
feels a lot closer to those countries of potential concern than we would be
Although Iranian technology or abilities don't reach North America and
certainly don't cover all of Europe, they can go and touch Europe. So there
would be that feeling in Europe now that would be different than what we feel
Regarding the way NATO works, in particular, my understanding is that not all
nations actually participate in each capability in NATO. When we were flying the
AWACS, not everyone participated, but all of NATO took advantage of it. The
issue of ballistic missile defence in Europe does not mean everyone has to have
a piece of hardware that belongs to them.
Senator Segal: If we were the American or British or French or German
or Italian or Dutch oversight committee, you could be brutally frank in the
answer to the following question, so I respect that it is not your fault that
you can't be brutally frank because you don't have the freedom to share some
things with us, and we respect that and are not troubled by it. We are troubled,
but it's not the fault of our guests that we don't have that capacity.
In terms of scenario planning, and the depth of threat and analytical
capacity, every operation in every part of the Armed Forces can use more
capacity. You all have to make tough choices with the resources made available
to you; I understand that. But are you comfortable, from a professional point of
view, that the level of scenario planning as part of the overall risk and threat
assessment and the analytical tools available to you, in terms of real-time
intelligence, open-source and all the rest, are sufficient such that your
analysis of threat for your colleagues in the forces and others is at a level of
depth and acuity that is actually accurate? Are you comfortable that you're able
to do that?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: Interestingly, if you were asking the same
questions in the U.S, my U.S. counterpart would say, "I don't have enough
resources or people doing that," although he has 110,000 people doing just
defence intelligence. Intelligence is one of those areas where you can always
use more resources. If you have already figured out what's around one corner,
you want to figure out what's around the next and the next. We could spend 10
times the amount that we currently spend on intelligence, and I would still feel
that with just five more guys, I could know what was around the next corner.
It is very much a question of trying to decide what is absolutely important
for Canada and its defence and then to be comfortable understanding its place in
the world. I'm talking specifically for Canada. When we were in the middle of
operations in Afghanistan, our intelligence folks were kind of tapped to the
maximum because we always wanted to be there and to make sure that we had the
best information where lives were at immediate risk.
When we're not in combat operations, minute to minute, we have time to
concentrate on other parts. Again, you could give me 10 times the number of
analysts and I would still say I couldn't answer all the questions you have.
Senator Segal: The follow up question is, were you surprised by what
happened in Crimea? Did you know it was going to happen? Did you know a few days
before it happened? Do you think your allies may have known?
Maj.-Gen. Rousseau: That's a very fair question. I mentioned at the
beginning that we have a view of the whole world because we have our allies and
we have developed to ensure that we are smart in the way that we spend our
resources. We developed a burden-sharing view with allies. Canada has taken on
some countries that for the first 72 hours of a crisis, we would be the ones
describing it for our allies. For example, when the Malian crisis happened, it
happened to be part of Canada's remit. At the time, we were the centre of
attention, where Americans would ask us what was going on in Mali. In the case
of Ukraine, it was not our primary responsibility but that of another ally. So
we relied on them for information. We were not surprised.
As it was a political situation in Ukraine, this was a back-burner issue for
me because there was no military dimension to it. At the end of the Sochi
Olympics, the government changed in Ukraine, and we saw that Russia was getting
concerned and reacting negatively to it. Then we started to put resources toward
that. We saw the big exercise, but below it we saw the six battalions going down
the coast to prepare for what turned out to be an invasion. It is difficult to
figure out intent, but as we see capabilities move, we can have views of where
the intent goes.
The Chair: Our time has come to an end. I would like to thank our
witnesses. It has been a fruitful hour. We appreciate your contribution as we
I would like to take a two-minute break and then ask members to spend a few
minutes in camera as we look forward with respect to a number of visits we are
planning over the next number of months.
(The committee continued in camera.)
(The committee resumed in public.)
The Chair: Colleagues, we have looked at a number of possibilities
with respect to plans for the forthcoming number of months. I have two proposed
budgets: The first one is for a day trip to the CBSA, for which the budget is
$3,510. Will someone move acceptance of the proposed budget so we can go to
Senator Dallaire: So moved.
The Chair: So moved by Senator Dallaire, seconded by Senator White. Is
everyone in favour?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: The second one is for committee members in the next number
of months to visit Washington, D.C. This is very important for the committee.
The amount is $53,620. I would ask for a motion.
Senator Dagenais has so moved, seconded by Senator Segal. All in favour?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Thank you, colleagues. I look forward to seeing those who
have been able to commit themselves to going to NORAD in Colorado Springs next
week for a two-day visit with respect to our report on ballistic missile
defence. We will report back to those who cannot go on what we have learned.