Mr. Speaker, the New Democratic Party believes that we must seriously address the issue of nuclear security and comply with our international obligation in order to better co-operate with other countries on a counterterrorism strategy.
The bill before us is unique inasmuch as we usually oppose the introduction of a government bill through the Senate, because an unelected chamber is not the place to begin the legislative process. However, for Bill S-9, one can see a helpful use of Senate time to do the first vetting of legislation that is intended merely to be technical to create compliance with international obligations.
This bill fulfills Canada's treaty obligations under the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, CPPNM, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, ICSANT. This includes extending international measures beyond protecting against the proliferation of nuclear materials to now include the protection of nuclear facilities. It reinforces Canada's obligation under UN Security Council resolution 1540, from 2004, to take and enforce effective measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear materials as well as chemical and biological weapons.
In this case, the implementation of the treaty requires amendments to Canadian legislation. The treaty is ratified only when such amendments or new legislation have been passed. To date, Canada has not ratified either the ICSANT or the CPPNM amendments. This is because Canada does not have legislation in place to criminalize the offences outlined in the ICSANT or some of the offences outlined in the CPPNM.
The amendments Bill S-9 introduces into the code represent Canada's efforts to align its domestic legislation with what is required by both conventions. If these amendments become law, Canada will presumably be in a position to ratify both the conventions, something Canada, and other countries, committed to work toward at both the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit, held in Washington, D.C., and the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Korea.
New Democrats are committed to multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation, especially in areas of great common concern, such as nuclear terrorism. We thus need to work with other leading countries that are ratifying these conventions. Moreover, Canada has agreed to be legally bound by these conventions. It is important to fulfill our international obligations and ratify these conventions through the domestic implementation that Bill S-9 undertakes.
To emphasize the seriousness of nuclear terrorism, I wish to quote from Professor Matthew Bunn, associate professor of public policy, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University.
Dr. Bunn testified before the Senate committee on this particular bill. He said:
The danger of nuclear terrorism remains very real. Government studies in the United States and in other countries have concluded that if terrorists manage to get enough highly enriched uranium or plutonium, they might very well be able to make a crude nuclear bomb capable of incinerating the heart of a major city.
In the case of highly enriched uranium, making such a bomb is basically a matter of slamming two pieces together at high speed. The amounts required are small, and smuggling them is frighteningly easy.
The core of al Qaeda is, as President Obama mentioned the other night, a shadow of its former self, but regional affiliates are metastasizing and some of the key nuclear operatives of al Qaeda remain free today. With at least two terrorist groups having pursued nuclear weapons seriously in the last 20 years, we cannot expect that they will be the last. Moreover, some terrorists have seriously considered sabotaging nuclear power plants, perhaps causing something like what we saw at Fukushima in Japan, or dispersing highly radioactive materials in a so-called “dirty bomb”.
Should terrorists succeed in detonating a nuclear bomb in a major city, the political, economic, and social effects would reverberate throughout the world. Kofi Annan, when he was secretary-general of the United Nations, warned that the economic effects would drive millions of people into poverty and create a second [terrifyingly significant] death toll in the developing world. Fears that terrorists might have another bomb that they might set off somewhere else would be acute. The world would be transformed, and not for the better.
Hence, insecure nuclear material anywhere is really a threat to everyone, everywhere. This is not just an American judgment. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that nuclear terrorism is one of the most serious threats of our time. Mohamed ElBaradei, while he was head of the IAEA, called it the greatest threat to the world.
Russia's counterterrorism czar, Anatoly Safonov, has warned that they have “firm knowledge” that terrorists have been given specific tasks to acquire nuclear weapons and their components....
Fortunately, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, we've made tremendous progress around the world in improving security for both nuclear weapons and the materials needed to make them. No longer are there sites where the essential ingredients of a nuclear bomb are sitting in what you and I would consider the equivalent of a high school gym locker with a padlock that could be snapped with a bolt cutter....
At scores of sites around the world, dramatically improved nuclear security has been put in place. At scores of other sites the weapons-usable nuclear material has been removed entirely, reducing the threat of nuclear theft from those sites to zero. More than 20 countries have eliminated all weapons-usable nuclear material on their soil, and the nuclear security summits have provided new high-level political impetus, which has accelerated this progress.
Mr. Safonov stressed a few more dangerous areas that still exist.
In Pakistan, a small but rapidly growing nuclear stockpile, which is under heavy security, I believe, faces more extreme threats than any other nuclear stockpile in the world, both from heavily armed extremists who might attack from outside and from potential insiders who might help them.
In Russia, which has the world's largest stockpiles of both nuclear weapons and weapons-usable nuclear material dispersed in the largest numbers of buildings and bunkers, the nuclear security measures have dramatically improved, but there are still important weaknesses that a sophisticated theft conspiracy might exploit. And sustainability remains a major concern, as Russia still has neither the strong nuclear security rules effectively in force nor sufficient funds allocated from the federal government to sustain security for the long haul.
At more than 100 research reactors around the world, you still have highly enriched uranium used as fuel or as targets for the production of medical isotopes, and in many of these reactors, security is very minimal. Some of them are on university campuses.
At the moment, unfortunately, the mechanisms for global governance of nuclear security remain weak. No global rules specify how secure a nuclear weapon or a chunk of plutonium or highly enriched uranium ought to be. There are no mechanisms in place to verify that every country that has these materials is securing them responsibly.
Without a doubt, Canada strongly supports the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Canada was, in fact, one of the architects of the CPPNM amendment and the ICSANT, and we are encouraged by the adoption of these two conventions by a significant number of countries. We actively encourage others to follow through on the their commitment to become parties, as Canada is doing.
Bill S-9, once passed and followed by the ratification of the CPPNM amendment as well as the ICSANT, would give credence to Canada's commitment to the strengthening of the global national security architecture. It would provide Canada with additional tools to counter this threat as well as enhance our ability to work with partners to mitigate the consequences, should this threat ever materialize.
We must be vigilant. We must work toward disarmament. We must ensure the safety of our world, our country and our families.