EDITOR’S NOTE: ALTHOUGH the vast majority of Canadians want an independent and nuclear-free Canada, a Canada which is a factor for peace, not war, the Government of Canada continues to welcome the unceasing “visits” of U.S. and NATO nuclear-capable warships with open arms: no questions asked. Its total hypocrisy is to the extent that it also claims to be the greatest upholder of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty under the pretext of “security” when it comes time to attacking independent states that are not kowtowing to the dictate of the United States.
The U.S. Navy gives no information whatsoever to Canada regarding these menacing deployments and has a very convenient policy of “neither confirming nor denying” the presence of nuclear weapons on its ships. This extra-territorial rule allows both the American and Canadian governments to sidestep and divert the issue of whether Canada is allowing the nuclear weapons into Canada.
About 85 per cent of the major combat vessels in the U.S. fleet are equipped to carry nuclear weapon. In the words of retired U.S. Admiral Eugene Carroll, “It has been my experience…that all U.S. warships that are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, do carry nuclear weapons.” The U.S. Navy, which is the best equipped and trained in the world, admitted to having over 600 nuclear accidents between 1965 and 1987. Just one detonated nuclear attack submarine could devastate a port city with the power of five thousand 1917 Halifax explosions. The nuclear arms on these warships include tactical, intermediate, and strategic weapons.
Under a succession of secret agreements which originated at the time of the formation of NATO in 1949, successive Canadian governments have allowed the United States not only to establish bases on Canadian soil but also to base and store part of its nuclear as well as chemical warfare arsenal in Canada. As many as 500 or more nuclear weapons were stored or deployed with the express permission of the federal cabinet. The sole government which disagreed, that of Conservative John Diefenbaker, was removed in 1963, in a covert operation headquartered in the basement of the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. In terms of the U.S. navy, nuclear depth charges are the nuclear weapons most frequently carried into Canada. In 1985 the Pentagon revealed secret plans for installing nuclear depth charges within Canadian waters and ports along with anti-cruise missiles; it continuously uses berthing facilities at CFB Shearwater in the community of Eastern Passage of the port of Halifax for its nuclear-armed submarine fleet. It has also secretly dumped chemical munitions on the seabed of Canada.
For the information of our readers, we are posting the following sensationalist news report concerning military-civil exercises organized around a so-called “mock disaster” by the military reporter of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. While confusing both the origin and the nature of the threat posed to Nova Scotians and the people of Canada, it acknowledges the grave dangers posed by the “visits” of U.S. and NATO warships to Canadian ports but it does so for a reason.
These threats all emanate from the lack of political control by the Canadian people over their harbour and nation. As a result, the Canadian government has issued special executive decrees such as the “controlled access military zones” (Order-in-Council, 31 October 2002), and put into place programs in our ports by the Canadian government working with U.S. Homeland Security and Northern Command under the pretext of “security,” “interdicting the drug trade,” and “stopping asylum seekers” aimed at protecting the warships of foreign powers. The exercises are also part of the pressure by the United States to integrate border security under U.S. command and unify military and civilian agencies as part of agreements such as the “Smart Border Action Plan” signed between Canada and the United States following September 11.
It is only normal that the people of Halifax and other major ports should be concerned about what the Pentagon and the Canadian government have in store and the threat posed by U.S. warships. The concern is that if Canada is not defending its sovereignty, it is also not defending the safety and security of its citizens.
It is therefore no surprise that the monopoly-owned media characterizes the government’s plans in a manner that seeks to keep Haligonians pessimistic. The Chronicle Herald is second to none in this regard: a member of the military affairs committee of the Board of Trade, it champions the “visits” of U.S. warships as “good for business.” It stirs up the spectre of foreign “terrorism,” hysteria about anthrax, and suspicion of Muslims to accept the stepped-up nuclear danger in the offing as part of the price to pay, thus promoting a sense of inevitability, passivity and/or desperation in the face of such terrorism. One aim is clearly to paralyze the port workers in the face of the situation in the name of Bush’s War on Terrorism. Another aim of the “mock exercises” is that they are a prelude towards establishing martial law under Bill C-55, the Public Safety Act 2002, to protect American warships and troops in Canadian harbours and waters.
Keeping in mind the media’s attempt to divert attention from the war preparations the government is carrying, by spreading pessimism on the one hand and illusions about “nuclear free zones” on the other, we should stay focused. Far from remaining passive in the face of the situation or relying on lobbying those responsible for the situation in the first place, Haligonians can make headway by building the No Harbour for War Program and practical politics to defend their interests. There is an alternative!
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Planning for disaster
“Terrorist” attack focus of exercise
By CHRIS LAMBIE, Staff Reporter, Halifax Chronicle-Herald
HALIFAX (12 October 2006) – MILITARY and civilian officials responded to a mock disaster aboard a visiting nuclear submarine Wednesday in Halifax.
Organizers used a temporary shower set up in an ambulance bay at the Halifax Infirmary to decontaminate about a dozen victims of the fictional accident. While Wednesday’s scenario involved a sub, officials stressed it also tested how everyone from sailors to doctors would respond to a terrorist attack.
“The objective of the exercise is to prepare Canada for a radiological, nuclear, counter-terrorist event,” said Diana Wilkinson, a radiation biologist with Defence Research and Development Canada.
“In the event that something does happen within Canada, we want to be prepared.”
The Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre has never dealt with patients contaminated by radiation, though staffers practise disaster planning regularly, said Karen MacRury-Sweet, director of heart health and emergency for the Capital district health authority.
“You will only use it once, or maybe never, but you have to know what to do,” she said.
It’s important to plan for such a disaster, said Dr. Katrina Hurley, an emergency medicine resident at the QEII.
“As professionals, it’s important to provide whatever care can be provided,” Dr. Hurley said.
“But realistically, if Halifax were to be targeted for a nuclear attack, then the probability of our disaster plan being able to be successfully carried out is very low because chances are the facilities and the people involved would be injured and incapacitated. We wouldn’t be able to provide the care.”
In the case of something leaking from a nuclear sub’s reactor, the hospital would be able to provide care, she said, noting some types of radiation cannot be washed off.
“Patients might come in complaining of diarrhea and vomiting. More seriously injured patients might have bleeding, burns and over time the injuries can progress and they can have bone marrow suppression (where they stop producing white blood cells) and become sick and die.”
Dr. Hurley, who belongs to an organization called Physicians for Global Survival, is lobbying politicians to make Halifax Harbour a nuclear-free zone.
“There is no treatment as good as prevention,” she said. “Much, much, much more effective than trying to wash people off in showers and conduct disaster exercises would be to prevent such a thing from occurring in the first place.
“Halifax doesn’t have any nuclear power plants. We don’t have any nuclear weapons in Halifax or in Canada in general. What we have then is they’re essentially bringing a disaster to us. They’re bringing nuclear-powered subs and I don’t know if they actually have nuclear-armed subs in our harbour, but those risks are being brought to us. They’re not risks that we have inherent in being the city of Halifax.”
The nuclear emergency response team from CFB Halifax was part of Wednesday’s training scenario, which started with a pretend sub accident at 12 Wing Shearwater. Military officials said there was no real sub involved in the exercise, though visiting British and American nuclear subs can sometimes be spotted at the Shearwater dock.
There has never been an accident in a Canadian port involving a nuclear-powered vessel.
About 25 nuclear-powered vessels visit Canada every year, according to the document
“The likelihood of a nuclear reactor accident involving a nuclear-powered vessel visiting a Canadian port is extremely remote, even though it cannot be entirely ruled out,” says a Defence Department backgrounder on the topic. About 25 nuclear-powered vessels visit Canada every year, according to the document.
Halifax and Esquimalt are bound by international agreements to accept nuclear-powered warships belonging to some of Canada’s closest allies. (This is incorrect or a lie, as the so-called “international agreements” are bilateral or by virtue of the Visiting Forces Act – TS) Nanoose, B.C., is the only other Canadian port where they can tie up.
“Just the fact that they had this exercise (Wednesday) shows that they’re a big risk to the local people,” said Muriel Duckworth, a 98-year-old Halifax peace activist. “We should not allow them in here.”
Shunpiking Online, Volume 3, Number 9, December 2006