I believe all the members of the committee have the overhead hard copy of the threat fans. They are a copy of a threat fan from North Korea and where a ballistic missile trajectory would go to be able to cover all of North America.
Let me get right to the point and deal with the three issues at hand, beginning with the threat assessment.
First, it's clear that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles up to the intercontinental range. How many warheads and how many missiles, particularly at the ICBM level, is unknown.
Whether North Korea has to date been able to neutralize and marry nuclear weapons to its fleet of ballistic missiles remains open for debate. We have not seen evidence, and the only real evidence we could get would be if North Korea launched a demonstration test somewhere over the North Pacific, where it would detonate a nuclear device just to make sure everyone knows it can do it. Right now, at the minimum, we have to plan for an uncertain future, where they eventually do get the technology.
Third, although North Korea has done many military parades of solid-fuel ballistic missiles on mobile launchers, it's unclear whether it has mastered this very difficult and complicated technology. As it stands, notwithstanding the future, most of these missiles are liquid fuelled, which provides ample warning and preparation before a strike. An ICBM has to be fuelled roughly 24 hours before it can be launched, so you get this warning. That's an important thing to consider.
Also unclear is the extent to which North Korea has mastered guidance systems—the ability to launch a missile, fire and forget it, and where it's going to go where they want it to go—and whether that really matters to them, notwithstanding other factors, particularly when you cut through orbital space and the debris up there that might alter its course. We certainly don't know how well they are doing there. They have demonstrated or are showing the beginnings of submarine launch capability, but that, I would suggest, given the empirical evidence of how long China has taken to get to that point, is probably a decade or more off.
The North Koreans, despite what the so-called experts say, do not—and will not for a long time—possess decoys or penetration aids for their systems. This is extremely complicated technology. I refer you to the costs of the Chevaline system that the Brits undertook in the 1970s with Polaris to be able to penetrate the Soviet ABM system around Moscow. In addition, it follows that they do not have a multiple warhead capability. These are one-shot warheads.
The conditions under which the North Koreans would attack North America are extremely difficult to know. I could develop a series of scenarios of how this could happen, but by and large the rhetoric that cuts through all the nonsense is that the North Koreans portray this as a deterrent against the imperialist threat. Whether or not the probability of a bolt from the blue or a pre-emptive attack is low, it cannot be assumed to be zero. It is a possibility that has to be considered.
From general views in the west, as we interpret this through our own lens of deterrence thinking and on our past behaviour, we are looking at an escalatory process in which nuclear attacks, missile attacks, will be directed first against South Korea. In particular, they will be directed against American bases in South Korea, then to its four bases, in Guam and Okinawa, then subsequently Hawaii, then finally the continental United States. This thinking reflects the natural development process of North Korean missile tests, going from short range up the ladder until you get to three-stage ICBMs.
Having heard this issue about how we are not a threat, and we're not identified as a threat, I'll put it aside for the moment, but I'd be happy to talk to you in the question period about the lack of definition and this long-standing, misguided belief that somehow Canada is perceived as different from our core ally in the United States in terms of target sets. Nonetheless, from a basic perspective Canada faces two direct threats.
The first is Canada as accidental target. In an attempt to hit the continental United States, for a variety of guidance reasons—problems with fuelling, etc., or various factors—the warhead doesn't get there. As you look at the overhead, you get an idea of where it might drop if it goes short.
Second, as was pointed out—I think correctly—Canada can be a demonstration target to indicate North Korean resolve and capability in the context of a crisis or war, especially if North Korea is at war and is on the verge of defeat and destruction. One might expect the demonstration would then take place over the North Pacific as a way to signal the west, led by the United States, to stop whatever they're doing, but it may also be the case that they will look at Canada and say that they can fire at Canada undefended, along a path that would demonstrate their ability to hit Washington, D.C.
I will go to the end of this. Let me go clear to “Is Canada Defended?” The rest I'll pick up later and you can read it.
The straightforward and honest answer is no, we are not defended. The belief that the United States will defend us is morally reprehensible and politically irresponsible. It is morally reprehensible because we place the United States and the officers who by oath are there to defend the United States—not Canada—in a difficult moral dilemma which to me is unacceptable. As well, it is irresponsible because we have not negotiated any form of arrangement with the United States to deal with the problem of the defence of Canada.
The United States has three options in a potential attack scenario: a pre-emptive strike to eliminate North Korean capabilities; a second layer of forward-deployed naval systems, which may work against an ICBM; and, of course, a third ground-based layer.
Whether on functional terms the United States would defend Canada is based on four considerations: the size of the North Korean arsenal relative to intercept probabilities and numbers; second, the ability to identify the specific target here; third, the location of the Canadian target relative to American targets; and finally, will the things actually go where they're supposed to go? I'll leave it there for now.