Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Interesting Post on Politics of the Future

Posted by K.E. White on July 4, 2011

From Mcleans.ca’s Paul Well, blogging on the NDP-charged parliamentary Canada Post filibuster, on the difficulty of smart economic policy and electoral politics:

This simple notion—the world changes, it’s not like it used to be—does not come naturally to either of the main parties in the new Parliament. Layton’s NDP and Harper’s Conservatives are preoccupied with arguing about the allocation of wealth and advantage, not its creation. They are wage-earners’ parties with competing ideas about what wage-earners want. But it’s not fat-cat bosses or ivory-tower elites that are shutting HMV and Blockbuster down. It’s new ideas and technologies. This week an Industry Canada panel released a report saying Canada is mediocre, and getting worse, at producing those ideas and technologies. The feisty new Parliament, having shown off its ability to fight yesterday’s fights, was no longer around to discuss the report. Maybe this autumn. Maybe.

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Two Upcoming WMD Events

Posted by K.E. White on March 10, 2011

Just a quick blurb to Washington D.C. readers:  The Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. will be holding a discussion on WMD threat reduction tomorrow.

And for all readers, tomorrow will also be the House Armed Services Committee’s hearing on the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the DoD agency responsible for reducing the threat to America and it’s allies from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.  The hearing will be available online.

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The Canadian Century?

Posted by K.E. White on June 26, 2010

Two graphs sum it all up:

GDP Growth Among G7 Economies

Foreign Policy compares the mid-90s reform effects of Canada and America, suggesting Canada’s debt success and America’s debt failure explain Canada’s now superior economic growth rate.

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Dealing with Nuclear Waste: Canada Opts for Volunteerism

Posted by K.E. White on December 21, 2009

Should America emulate Canada when it comes to storing nuclear waste?

This Christian Science Monitor article explores Canada’s attempt to store its growing quantities of nuclear waste. Seeking to avoid Yucca Mountain fiascoes, Canada’s privately controlled effort hopes communities will volunteer to store nuclear waste.

From the article:

In the US, site selection has been a top-down affair, with politics playing a central role. In 1987, Congress passed a law ordering the Department of Energy to explore only one location, Yucca Mountain in Nevada, which billions in studies subsequently showed to be problematic. Nevada vehemently opposed the plan, as did Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada. President Obama canned the project earlier this year, leaving US nuclear waste policy in limbo.

Canada’s plan aims to avoid local resistance by requiring communities to ask to be considered as hosts for an underground repository. Volunteers will be given extensive information on the ecological risks and economic benefits of the repository, which is expected to cost between $16 billion and $24 billion. After public endorsement via referendum or other means, the community would become a candidate for extensive technical review.

“The only way that a community will be involved in the process is by it choosing to be involved,” says Mike Krizanc, spokesman for the NWMO, the entity charged with finding the site. “It will be an informed and willing community.”

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Trouble in Afghanistan: Wither NATO?

Posted by K.E. White on February 10, 2008

The Canadian-led NATO mission in Afghanistan has run into some considerable trouble.

Canada called for more troops from NATO partners, even threatening to pull out if their request went unanswered.

While Germany has softened its opposition to granting more troops, the United States has increased diplomatic pressure on NATO allies to solve the Afghan dilemma.

Speaking at an international security conference in Munich, Defense Secretary Robert Gates openly pressed NATO members to send more troops to Afghanistan.

From the New York Times:

After weeks of calling on NATO governments to send more combat troops and trainers to Afghanistan, Mr. Gates made his case directly to people across the continent in a keynote address to an international security conference here. Mr. Gates summoned the memory of Sept. 11, 2001, to say that Europe is at risk of becoming victim to attacks of the same enormity.

“I am concerned that many people on this continent may not comprehend the magnitude of the direct threat to European security,” Mr. Gates said. “For the United States, Sept. 11 was a galvanizing event one that opened the American public’s eyes to dangers from distant lands.”

In a hall filled with government officials, lawmakers and policy analysts from around the world, Mr. Gates added: “So now I would like to add my voice to those of many allied leaders on the continent and speak directly to the people of Europe. The threat posed by violent Islamic extremism is real and it is not going to go away.”

While Iraq dominates headlines in America, Afghanistan remains a vital front in the war on terror. The Afghan-Pakistan border still stands as a critical hotbed of extremist activity.

But getting more troops from war-weary allies is no easy task. France has elevated political success over military success in Afghanistan; Australia refuses to send more troops; and Merkel faces stern opposition to any German troop increase.

From AFP:

According to an opinion poll due to be published in Monday’s edition of the magazine Focus, 84 percent of Germans oppose sending combat troops to the south.

And 63 percent believe the current deployment in northern Afghanistan does not serve German interests, according to the TNS Emnid poll.

Germany, whose troop level deployment in Afghanistan currently stands at about 3,200, earlier this week announced it would take over responsibility from Norway in July for a quick reaction force in the north of the country.

The Sunday Herald—a Scottish newspaper—illustrates just how high the stakes are for NATO in Afghanistan:

The problem is that Nato is not geared up to that kind of thinking, even though it is beginning to concentrate on training the Afghans to take over responsibility for their own security. The alliance was formed to defend the West against attack from the Soviet Union. During that time it never fired a shot in anger, and now it has been tasked to fight what many believe is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Afghanistan is still considered by the security community as the make-or-break mission for Nato, and the urgency of the situation cannot be overstated,” argues Kate Clouston, an associate of the Royal United Services Institute, in a paper on the alliance’s operations in Afghanistan for the independent think tank. “Substantial reform by Nato allies is needed now if the alliance is ever going to be ready to hand over control of the currently unsecured provinces to Afghan national forces.”

The British publication Telegraph has a detailed article on John McCain’s foreign policy, in particular his views on Afghanistan:

A future President McCain would be expected to win favour with European governments critical of the Bush administration’s approach to combating Islamic extremism, by closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in the first weeks of his presidency and declaring that the US will no longer tolerate torture.

British and American pressure on Germany appeared to bear fruit yesterday when it emerged the German government might send an extra 1,000 troops to Afghanistan. But Mr McCain will continue to work to broaden its restrictive rules of engagement.

The Afghanistan offensive will form a major plank of Mr McCain’s outreach to the world, as he battles to win over conservatives in his party.

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Tensions in NATO’s Afghanistan Mission: Canada Wants More Troops, US Paints Dire Picture, Germany on the Fence

Posted by K.E. White on January 30, 2008

Canada—who heads up NATO operations in Afghanistan—is becoming a bit antsy about its peacekeeping role. Earlier this month, a review of Canada’s military operations in Afghanistan—chaired by John Manley—demanded more NATO troops be sent or Canada should terminate its mission there.

Canada’s departure from the NATO mission could be a major blow to the alliance. From Canada.com:

“I think if NATO can’t come through with that help, then I think, frankly, NATO’s own reputation and future will be in jeopardy,” Harper told reporters after endorsing that recommendation from a panel headed by former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley.

Canada, with roughly 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, has lost 78 soldiers and one diplomat. All three opposition parties are pressuring Harper’s Conservatives to end Canada’s combat mission by no later than February 2009, with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois demanding an immediate withdrawal.

 

 

The response from other NATO countries? Not fantastic. From Spiegel Online:

 

Meanwhile, Germany‘s Green Party warned on Wednesday that the deployment of combat troops to northern Afghanistan could lead to the spread of the German mission to the volatile south of the country. Party defense spokesman Winfried Nachtwei told the Leipziger Volkszeitung that the Quick Reaction Force should not “open the door for the Bundeswehr in the south,” and that the government should “guarantee that the limits of the mandate up to now are maintained.” Nachtwei insisted that the combat troops should only be allowed to support troops in the north and not be sent to fight the insurgency.

The German media on Wednesday looked at the implications of the NATO request, which could see Germany further embroiled in Afghanistan.

How coalition partners react to the deteriorating situation is critical to American security. The Afghan-Pakistan border is a terrorist hotbed: threatening not only Afghanistan’s security, but that of the volatile–and nuclear armed–regime in Pakistan.

 

President Bush pledged to send additional American troops to Afghanistan during his State of the Union address:

“In Afghanistan, America, our 25 NATO allies and 15 partner nations are helping the Afghan people defend their freedom and rebuild their country. Thanks to the courage of these military and civilian personnel, a nation that was once a safe haven for al-Qaida is now a young democracy where boys and girls are going to school, new roads and hospitals are being built, and people are looking to the future with new hope.

“These successes must continue, so we are adding 3,200 Marines to our forces in Afghanistan, where they will fight the terrorists and train the Afghan army and police. Defeating the Taliban and al-Qaida is critical to our security, and I thank the Congress for supporting America‘s vital mission in Afghanistan.”

A report released today paints a bleak picture in Afghanistan. From BBC.com:

The study by former UN ambassador Thomas Pickering and retired Marine Corps General James Jones is due to be released later on Wednesday.

“The progress achieved after six years of international engagement is under serious threat from resurgent violence, weakening international resolve, mounting regional challenges and a growing lack of confidence on the part of the Afghan people about the future direction of their country,” it says.

Posted in Afghanistan, Canada, Foreign Policy, international relations, Manley, NATO | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Chalk River Nuclear ‘Dust Up’ Embroils Canada

Posted by K.E. White on January 17, 2008

Stephen Harper

An argument over shutting down an aging nuclear reactor has put the minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper in am embarrassing position. Canadian Prime Minister Harper now stands accused of bullying the bureaucratic entity that safeguardsLinda Keen Canada’s nuclear power infrastructure.

The fight pitted Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper against Linda Keen, President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The two disagreed over shutting down a nuclear reactor, a debate that carried global consequences—as The Star describes:

The Chalk River reactor, run by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., was shut down on Nov. 18 for routine maintenance, but an inspection by the regulatory staff found that mandatory safety upgrades – connecting vital cooling pumps to an emergency power supply that would work even if the area was hit with an earthquake – had not been done.

That put the reactor in violation of its operating licence (sic) and AECL opted to keep it shut.

The result was a worldwide shortage of radioisotopes used for medical diagnosis and treatment, prompting the government to pass legislation ordering the start-up of the reactor.

As would be expected, Keen was removed and now sits as only a CNSC board member. Michael Binder now serves as CNSC president.

The problem: Harper’s government cannot seem to offer up an objective deficiency in Keen’s performance, besides her contention that the Chalk River reactor did not meet Canadian safety standards.Chalk River Nuclear Facility

The Chalk River facility is a key component of Canada’s nuclear industry, and boasts its own Nobel Prize story:

Chalk River is the site where 1994 Nobel Prize winner, NRC’s Bertram Brockhouse, laid the foundation for the field of neutron scattering. It is also here that one of Canada‘s most productive science facilities is located – the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor.

Unlike most nuclear reactors which were dedicated to energy or military applications, the NRU was designed solely for research and development – which keeps the facility buzzing with activity year round. The neutrons supplied by the NRU reactor can accommodate users from a diverse range of scientific, academic and industrial sectors; making the facility a hotbed for cutting-edge research.

Owned and operated by NRC’s largest spin-off, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, the NRU is a nuclear facility that provides scientists with opportunities to conduct research using neutron beams. Beyond its historical contributions – establishing Canada‘s first operational nuclear facility (1945) and spinning out AECL (1952) – NRC still has a key presence in Chalk River, the NRC Canadian Neutron Beam Centre (NRC-CNBC).

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