Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill S-9, the nuclear terrorism act, which would amend the Criminal Code to implement obligations imposed on state parties to two international conventions: the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, which I will refer to as the “suppression convention”; and the amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which I will refer to simply as “the amendment”.
My remarks this morning will be divided into three parts: first, a discussion of the convention and the amendment; second, a discussion of Bill S-9 and how it relates to these international obligations; and third, a discussion of the contemporary context in which this debate occurs, namely, the climate of increasing nuclear proliferation in which we find ourselves.
To begin with, the suppression convention and the amendment contribute to the development and harmonization of national laws aimed at securing nuclear materials and combatting the threat of nuclear terror. In particular, Bill S-9 would add four new offences to the Criminal Code thereby prohibiting acts in relation to the possession, use and transfer of radioactive or nuclear devices or related materials as well as the protection of nuclear facilities.
Bill S-9 would also classify the commission of these new offences as “terrorist activity” and empower Canadian courts to exercise jurisdiction in cases concerning the commission of these offences extraterritorially such that the particular offence would not need to have occurred inside Canada for Canada to invoke Canadian prosecutorial initiatives.
In particular, the passage of Bill S-9 would enable Canada to ratify these conventions, a goal to which the government recently committed at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.
Members of the House may remember the political environment in which the summit occurred, back in March, with the launch by North Korea of a satellite that threatened South Korean airspace. It is in this context that the Minister of Foreign Affairs correctly observed that:
What's going on in North Korea, and frankly what could be going on in Iran, causes us all concern but I think that's an inspiration and a motive for us to see that nuclear materials that already exist are secured or even destroyed....
What the minister observed then is no less true now.
Bill S-9 is of critical importance. Indeed, the need for the legislation has long been known. In fact, the 2005 government of Prime Minister Paul Martin, under which I served, signed the suppression convention at the time. While the subsequent election precluded our legislative efforts to fully ratify and implement its obligations, I am pleased that the current government has taken up this task.
However, it is regrettable that seven years have passed in the interim. Certainly, the minister's current support for the promotion of an international framework to govern the prevention of nuclear terrorism is to be applauded. Yet, it remains as inexplicable as it is somewhat irresponsible for the government to have delayed this long, particularly on such a compelling international commitment of the first order.
Before us today is not the convention but rather Bill S-9, legislation introduced in the other place to implement principles embodied in these two international conventions agreed to, as I mentioned, by the Liberal government in 2005. Just as the Liberal government supported the promotion of a global framework for the protection of nuclear material and the prevention of nuclear terrorism then, we continue our support of this effort now. I would urge all colleagues to send the bill to committee for appropriate study and review.
I will support Bill S-9 at second reading as it implements Canada's international policy commitments in this regard. To echo the words of Senator Roméo Dallaire, nuclear weapons constitute, as he put it, “the most extreme massive violation of human rights imaginable” and serve as a violation of our human right to peace and security in the world.
The consequences of fissionable material falling into the hands of a rogue state or non-state terrorist organization are as dangerous as they are prospectively unimaginable. Bill S-9 reflects this imperative to ensure the security of nuclear materials and facilities in this regard. By amending the Criminal Code, and particularly by implementing extraterritorial jurisdiction, the bill would provide the Attorney General with the necessary enforcement tools. These tools find expression in four new criminal offences created by Bill S-9.
First, Bill S-9 would make it an indictable offence to make a device or possess, use, transfer, export, import, alter or dispose of nuclear or radioactive material or a device with the intent to cause death, serious bodily harm or substantial damage to property or the environment. It would also criminalize the commission of an act against a nuclear facility or an act that causes serious interference or disruption of a nuclear facility's operation.
A second offence makes it an indictable offence to do any of these same acts with the specific intent to compel a person, government or international organization to do or refrain from doing something. In other words, where the first offence speaks of intent to cause death, this offence speaks to coercion and threats with a nuclear connection.
Third, Bill S-9 would make it a separate indictable offence to commit any indictable offence with the intent to obtain nuclear or radioactive material, or to obtain access to a nuclear facility.
Fourth, the legislation makes it an indictable offence to threaten to commit any of the aforementioned new offences.
Moreover, Bill S-9 would include these four new offences within the definition of “terrorist activity” in section 83.01 of the Criminal Code. As such, the commission of these offences would trigger other provisions of the code in respect of related offences, such as electronic surveillance and DNA collection.
Bill S-9 has benefited from an extensive debate in the Senate and I trust that members of the House will agree to send it for further study by the committee in our House, where more of the technical details would be scrutinized.
I will now turn my attention to the context in which the debate occurs, namely the question of nuclear proliferation and disarmament and Canada's role in this regard.
Indeed, as important as it is, Bill S-9 simply standing alone would not be enough. Despite our best efforts, nuclear materials and facilities will always be vulnerable. Indeed the protection of these stockpiles is only necessary as long as they actually do exist. As long as nuclear weapons and highly enriched uranium are developed by states and pursued by terrorist organizations, they will pose a threat to human security. It is in this regard that the government's leadership has been lacking.
Indeed, as members of this place may recall, the Canadian delegation in Seoul was subject to heavy criticism by both the U.S. and the EU for having not lived up to earlier undertakings to begin the phasing out of the use of highly enriched uranium in the production of medical isotopes. Simply put, Canada should be at the forefront of the move toward arms control and international nuclear disarmament. Measures such as those in Bill S-9 must be viewed as preliminary measures, as part of a larger and developing framework of non-proliferation.
Indeed, I am concerned that perhaps the government's modus operandi when it comes to domestic criminal justice is slightly orienting its approach to foreign policy and that it may be presuming that the mere criminalization of a behaviour is enough to combat it. We know that complex and multifaceted problems such as proliferation require so much more than this.
Certainly, Bill S-9 would contribute to the prevention of nuclear terrorism by enabling law enforcement to prosecute terrorists before they achieve their intended death and destruction. Given that a single nuclear attack under any circumstance is simply not acceptable and that the risk of nuclear terrorism will never reach zero as long as weapons and devices exist and can be accessed by such terrorists and non-state actors, the bill would be inherently limited as an instrument of prevention and must be viewed as just the first step.
Let me be clear. I unequivocally support the creation of these new offences and recognize the important role of domestic criminal law enforcement in combatting the problem of nuclear weapons. Also, as I have stated elsewhere, I support sending the legislation to committee. My purpose here is only to emphasize the importance of international collaboration and international legal regimes in pursuit of non-proliferation and the ultimate goal of disarmament, which must be the end objective here.
As Senator Dallaire put it during debate in the other place, “we [should] discuss how this legislation fits into the broader stance Canada has taken and needs to take against nuclear weapons”. Simply put, we must be steadfast in our insistence that dangerous and genocidal regimes can never be trusted with nuclear weapons under any circumstances.
Diplomatic and legal institutions exist that must underpin Canadian policy in this regard. For instance, Canada should take a leading role in the push for a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention that would require countries with nuclear weapons to gradually destroy them and remove all fissile material to UN control. We should be supporting the United Nations Secretary-General's comprehensive set of proposals with respect to nuclear disarmament.
Moreover, we must pursue international legal remedies against regimes that engage in genocidal threats, particularly those that underpin those threats with nuclear weaponization.
We must view nuclear weapons for the use to which they could perhaps be dangerously put in support of these regimes' genocidal intent. We must insist that they be kept out of the hands of those states that flagrantly disregard international law, threaten the peace and security of the international community, and threaten the rights of their citizens. Indeed, as has been observed, states that violate, and massively violate, the rights of their own citizens are most likely to violate the rights of others.
The prime example of this threat in the modern context is that of Khameini's Iran. I use that term to distinguish it from the people and public of Iran who are otherwise the targets of mass domestic repression. In Khameini's Iran the steady progression toward nuclear capabilities demonstrates the importance both of domestic criminal law enforcement, as we have been discussing, as well as multilateralism and international legal regimes.
Bill S-9 deals with the domestic problem. With regard to the Iranian nuclear threat, however, we must continue to engage internationally as well.
I have described the Iranian threat in terms of a fourfold threat: the nuclear threat, the incitement threat, the terrorism threat, and massive domestic repression. Let there be no mistake about it that Iran is in standing violation of international legal prohibitions respecting its nuclear weaponization program. Iran has already committed, as an all-party committee of the foreign affairs committee in this House determined, the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the genocide convention itself.
Iran has been characterized as a leading state sponsor of international terrorism, and indeed its terrorism in 2012 alone, spanning five continents and some 22 terrorist acts with Iranian footprints, has served to further affirm that proposition. Finally, as I mentioned, Iran is engaged in such massive domestic repression that the latter effectively constitute crimes against humanity against its own people.
This brings me to the particular issue of the manner in which Canada must address the whole question of nuclear proliferation with regard to Iran. Here the international context and our role in that context becomes particularly important.
I would like to suggest that Canada support the prospective P5-plus-1 negotiations with Iran, with whatever diplomatic strategy may develop in the context of those negotiations, and put forward the following requirements with respect to combatting nuclear proliferation in general, but in particular with regard to Iran's nuclear weaponization program.
First, Iran must as a threshold requirement verifiably suspend its uranium enrichment program, allowing the international community to counter the Iranian strategy, the three Ds of delay, denial and deception, used by Iran to accelerate it nuclear weaponization program rather than, in fact, move toward disarmament.
Second, Iran must ship its supply of enriched uranium out of the country, where it can be reprocessed and then made available to Iran under appropriate inspection and monitoring for use in civil nuclear programs.
Third, Iran must verifiably close and dismantle its nuclear enrichment plant at Fordow, embedded in a mountain near Qom, which Iranians initially denied even existed but where a zone of impenetrability will soon develop unless that facility is in fact dismantled.
Fourth, Iran must suspend its heavy water production facilities at Arak. It is sometimes forgotten that an essential component for producing plutonium could also be water, which is a nuclear component that North Korea uses for its own nuclear weapons. Simply put, the path to nuclear weaponization need not be travelled by uranium enrichment alone. The suspension of uranium enrichment, however necessary, will not alone ensure that Iran is verifiably abandoning its nuclear weaponization program.
Fifth, Iran must allow the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors immediate and unfettered access to any suspected nuclear site, as Iran is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Iran is thereby bound by its obligations not to pursue nuclear weapons but also to open its nuclear sites and installations.
Sixth, Iranian authorities need to grant the IAEA access to the parts and military complex near Tehran, where it has been reported that Iran has conducted high explosives testing, possibly in conjunction with the development of a nuclear weapon.
Finally, Iran needs to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to install devices on centrifuges to monitor Iran's uranium enrichment levels.
These are the kinds of threshold approaches that Canada can assist in framing and thereby assist in combating proliferation. As I said, a foreign affairs committee of the House has determined that Iran engages in state sanctioned incitement to genocide. The convergence of the two makes the threat even more dangerous than it might otherwise be.
There are a number of remedies that Canada could engage in that it has not yet done, both to combat the nuclear proliferation dimension and genocidal incitement. In other words, there are juridical remedies that we have not sufficiently explored.
First, we could simply ask the United Nations Secretary General to refer this to the UN Security Council for deliberation and accountability as a matter that “threatens international peace and security”, which is under the jurisdiction of the UN Secretary General.
Second, any state party to the genocide convention, including Canada, could initiate tomorrow an interstate complaint against Iran, a state party to that genocide convention, before the International Court of Justice.
Third, Canada, or any other country, could ask the UN Security Council to refer the matter of Iran's state sanctioned incitement to genocide, underpinned by its nuclear weaponization program, to the UN Security Council for purposes of inquiring into individual criminal liability. There are other remedies, but I will limit it in this regard.
Finally, before I conclude my remarks, I would like to return to one specific technicality relating to Bill S-9 and to link it to the problem of Iranian nuclear weaponization. As members of this place may know, despite making reference to the matter, the government has failed to take any action to list the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization under the Criminal Code. Simply put, the IRGC has emerged as the epicentre of the Iranian four-fold threat to which I referred, and has played a central role in Iran's domestic repression, international terrorism, incitement to genocide and nuclear proliferation.
The United States has already labelled it a terrorist group, while the UN and the European Union have imposed various sanctions against the IRGC and its leaders. It is regrettable that Canada has yet to take the step of listing it as a terrorist entity here in the Criminal Code, a step that would combat the nuclear proliferation, genocidal incitement, as well as the international terrorism. Indeed, the IRGC, acting through Hezbollah and the terrorist proxies of Iran, was implicated in the attempted assassination of the Saudi ambassador in Washington, and in July's terrorist attack targeting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria that resulted in seven deaths, as well as a series of international terrorist attacks during 2012.
Of course, the international juridical remedies I outlined must be pursued against the IRGC and its individual members and leaders. Indeed, I have long called for the listing of the IRGC as a terrorist organization, and I mention it now in relation to Bill S-9 to highlight one particular aspect of the bill that needs to be more closely studied at committee with related amendments as may be moved in this regard.
Another important feature of the bill is its military exclusionary clause, which would ensure that none of the newly created offences would apply to “activities undertaken by military forces of a state in the exercise of their official duties, to the extent that those activities are governed by other rules of international law”.
My concern is that activities by or in relation to the IRGC could be argued to fall into this category insofar as the IRGC could be characterized as a military force of a state and not as a terrorist organization. Clearly, the actions of the IRGC can be demonstrated to be in violation of international law, thus precluding protection under this clause. Still, so long as they are not expressly designated as a terrorist organization under the Criminal Code, this legal loophole will still loom over our discussions.
Again, we must situate Bill S-9 within the larger context of nuclear proliferation and the Iranian nuclear threat in particular, and thereby scrutinize the bill to ensure that it could have the intended effect of preventing nuclear terror. Accordingly, I reaffirm my request for the government to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization. I further suggest that the effect of the military exclusionary clause be more closely considered in committee to ensure that Bill S-9 would not be precluded from achieving effective prevention.
Canada has a tradition and reputation for taking the lead in multilateral efforts of this kind. Our nation is rich in effective soft power resources, and under previous governments we have demonstrated that multilateral leadership can achieve solutions to the seemingly most intractable problems of international co-operation and the pursuit of human security. I remind the House of our nation's leading role in the negotiation of the 1997 Ottawa treaty banning the use of anti-personnel landmines, where Canada mobilized governments and non-governmental organizations to achieve the signing of that landmark global treaty. We should also recall that Canadian leadership was effective then in changing the behaviour of governments and militaries, ultimately proving that disarmament is an achievable goal. Canada should be pursuing that goal today with respect to the overall context of proliferation, particularly as it relates to Iran.