Evidence of meeting #37 for National Defence in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was countries.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Jean-François Lafleur
  • James Appathurai  Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Political Affairs and Security Policy, Special Representative for Caucasus and Central Asia, North Atlantic Treaty Organization

12:15 p.m.

Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Political Affairs and Security Policy, Special Representative for Caucasus and Central Asia, North Atlantic Treaty Organization

James Appathurai

You used the word “prefer”. That's the right word. NATO will always look to the UN for a mandate for expeditionary operations. Except for a moment of the Kosovo operation, that has always been the case. NATO does not need the mandate of the United Nations to operate. Certainly, when it comes to the defence of an ally, it has a treaty obligation to each other, which does not require UN mandates. When we are defending ourselves, we can do that on our own authority.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Your time has expired.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

That's why you're a diplomat and I'm not.

12:15 p.m.

Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Political Affairs and Security Policy, Special Representative for Caucasus and Central Asia, North Atlantic Treaty Organization

James Appathurai

It's like Jeopardy. I love this.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Mr. Brahmi, you have five minutes.

May 1st, 2012 / 12:15 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I also want to thank our witness, Mr. Appathurai.

I have here an article from this morning's Ottawa Citizen about a report that came out just ahead of the upcoming summit in Chicago. The report found that Russia and the U.S. combined possess 2,800 non-strategic nuclear warheads. For the record, could you comment on that number?

12:15 p.m.

Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Political Affairs and Security Policy, Special Representative for Caucasus and Central Asia, North Atlantic Treaty Organization

James Appathurai

I did not read the article, so all I can say is that there are strategic missile heads and non-strategic missile heads. Under the START II treaty between the U.S. and Russia, each country is working on reducing its number of strategic nuclear warheads. There is little talk right now about non-strategic nuclear warheads. The number of non-strategic nuclear warheads Russia has is something that concerns a number of our allies.

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

What are NATO's plans with respect to tactical nuclear warheads?

12:15 p.m.

Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Political Affairs and Security Policy, Special Representative for Caucasus and Central Asia, North Atlantic Treaty Organization

James Appathurai

That is outlined in the strategic concept, but NATO would like to talk to the Russians about reducing the number of non-strategic nuclear warheads in Europe and moving them outside NATO's borders. This involves mainly the Russians, since it is primarily them who have this capability. The U.S. president has already said he would like to initiate talks with Russia on the matter, but so far, the Russians have not agreed to any discussions, not with us or them.

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

These tactical warheads came about in the cold war era. Is it safe to say that, in today's post cold war world, there is no longer a need for them?

12:20 p.m.

Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Political Affairs and Security Policy, Special Representative for Caucasus and Central Asia, North Atlantic Treaty Organization

James Appathurai

The fact that we reduced the number of these warheads in Europe by more than 90%, as I pointed out, shows that they are indeed paramount to our strategy. Russia, however, is maintaining them. We believe we could bring down this number much further, but we need to discuss it with the Russians, and, as I said, they are not yet willing to address that with us.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

I imagine it will be discussed in Chicago as well, during the summit. Isn't it an important part of the discussion?

12:20 p.m.

Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Political Affairs and Security Policy, Special Representative for Caucasus and Central Asia, North Atlantic Treaty Organization

James Appathurai

I am not sure whether the topic will be discussed in Chicago, but I am certain it will appear in the documents.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

Thank you.

I want to come back to another point, what you said when you were asked about the role Canada should play in the smart defence strategy. You gave the example of the Czech Republic and its nuclear, biological and chemical defence capabilities. You said that Canada didn't have the authority to reduce one of those aspects. Isn't that a bit contradictory? We are talking about how some countries do not want to get rid of their entire arsenals or their military capability.

12:20 p.m.

Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Political Affairs and Security Policy, Special Representative for Caucasus and Central Asia, North Atlantic Treaty Organization

James Appathurai

I did not say that Canada didn't have the authority to reduce or not reduce one of those aspects. It is up to Canada to decide what it wants to do.

I said that Canada has a range of capabilities that are very valuable to NATO. We do not want Canada to abandon its arms and focus on just one thing. That is not at all in line with smart defence. What that strategy means is that, more and more, certain countries do not have enough resources to afford total defence capabilities. If they continue to strive for total defence, they will end up with many areas of limited capability without any real capability. They are better off investing more in one area of capability.

Furthermore, smart defence sets out a list of projects, on three levels. General Abrial could explain everything. These projects concern essential capabilities. Groups of countries will develop the capabilities, with one country heading a specific project. I believe there are about 14 level-one projects. Canada is taking part or is planning to take part in these projects, like all NATO countries.

I did not mean that Canada should specialize in a single capability.