Yes, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, and thank you for inviting us here today to provide some law enforcement context about Bill S-9.
l have with me today Chief Superintendent Larry Tremblay, director general of federal policing, criminal operations.
Canada's counterterrorism strategy asserts, as one of its six fundamental principles, that terrorism is a crime that will be prosecuted. The deny-and-detect elements of the strategy aim to deny terrorists the means and opportunities to carry out their activities. A key objective in this strategy is to disrupt the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction.
Bill S-9, the Nuclear Terrorism Act, would strengthen law enforcement's ability to meet this important objective by specifying that actions associated with making, possessing, using, transferring, exporting, importing, altering, or disposing of nuclear and radioactive material with intent to cause death, serious bodily harm, or substantial damage to property or the environment will be deemed a serious crime with severe penalties.
Bill S-9 classifies criminal actions, for example, committing an indictable offence under federal law for the purpose of obtaining radioactive material, as terrorist acts. Bill S-9 raises the public consciousness about the seriousness of nuclear-related terrorist activities, and highlights the risks posed by people, organizations, and state actors engaging in these actions.
Another key aspect of this bill for law enforcement is that clause 3 criminalizes these activities if they occur outside Canada. Bill S-9 is thereby consistent with all other terrorist-related offences listed in the Criminal Code.
Nuclear terrorism is a threat to international security with the potential to cause significant loss of life, as well as substantial environmental and property damage.
Based on reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency, in the past two decades there have been approximately 20 cases of weapons-grade material on the black market. It is reported that illicit procurement networks are trafficking highly radioactive material across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
The investigative techniques that come into play when pursuing cases involving acts of nuclear terrorism are not significantly different from other complex terrorist investigations. Countering nuclear terrorism requires coordinated government action, including diplomacy and international cooperation, border controls, physical and information security, and law enforcement.
A primary objective of law enforcement would be to prevent nuclear radiological material from falling into the hands of terrorists. It would be critical to disrupt a terrorist plot at the earliest opportunity.
Law enforcement, the intelligence community, and border officials often work hand in hand to uncover plots. These actors are vital in uncovering the illicit movement of controlled goods and detecting and tracking illegal shipments. Intelligence and forensics also play a critical role in helping to prevent nuclear terrorism.
Law enforcement is critical to the government's response in countering nuclear terrorism, and therefore requires the appropriate authorities to execute its mission effectively. Bill S-9 will assist us when we investigate activities associated with nuclear and radioactive material.
The RCMP has developed close partnerships with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, as well as with the owners and operators of Canada's nuclear power plants. The key to denying terrorists the capabilities to engage in nuclear terrorism is effective cooperation among the full range of security and intelligence partners, both domestic and international.
The Yadegari investigation and prosecution, while not a nuclear terrorism case, exemplifies how government agencies can and should work together to counter proliferation. Mahmoud Yadegari was charged for attempting to export pressure transducers from the United States to the United Arab Emirates through Canada. The investigation determined that the pressure transducers, which are crucial components used in uranium enrichment, were ultimately destined for Iran.
Yadegari was charged with 10 offences under various statutes, including the Customs Act, the United Nations Act, the Export and Import Permits Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, and the Criminal Code for false documents.
Bill S-9 would criminalize proliferation in situations where an indictable offence is committed with intent to obtain nuclear and/or radioactive material, or to obtain access to a nuclear facility.
Global and domestic cooperation, sharing of intelligence and industrial security measures are critically important in achieving the goal of denying, detecting and deterring the trafficking of nuclear and radiological material.
Bill S-9 would contribute to law enforcement's counterterrorism efforts by specifying certain activities associated with nuclear and radiological material as serious crimes and enhancing the authorities available to police.
Thank you. I welcome your questions.