17 June 2014
Canadian Parliament Panel Backs Joining U.S. Missile Shield
Global Security Newswire

A Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, shown in Salt Lake City, provides early warning capabilities to the U.S.-Canada North American Aerospace Defense Command. A key Canadian parliamentary committee urged Ottawa to expand its antimissile cooperation with the United States. (U.S. Defense Department photo)

A Canadian parliamentary panel on Monday gave its full-throated support to the country joining a U.S.-led missile shield for North America.

The Canadian Senate Committee on National Security and Defence announced the panel was "unanimous in recommending that the government of Canada enter into an agreement with the United States to participate as a partner in ballistic missile defense," the Ottawa Citizen reported.

The panel recently held a number of hearings on the matter of U.S.-Canadian antimissile collaboration. Ottawa in 2005 turned down a U.S. proposal to participate in a regional antimissile framework, but the current Conservative Party-led government this spring asked parliament to hold hearings to examine whether the time had come to change that stance.

"The committee heard worrying testimony about the ongoing efforts of North Korea and Iran to acquire capabilities to deliver long-range, nuclear-armed ballistic missiles so as to threaten neighboring countries, NATO allies and North America," a Senate committee report said.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Ottawa was not ruling out any options related to missile defense but that the government had not reversed its 2005 decision, Reuters reported. "Obviously, there are changes occurring in the world ... and we'll make whatever decisions are in the best security safety interests of Canadians," the Conservative Canadian leader said.

The United States presently deploys 30 strategic ballistic missile interceptors at two sites in California and Alaska. An additional 14 interceptors are planned for fielding in Alaska, though the timing of the deployment could change if a scheduled intercept test on Sunday is unsuccessful.

The Canadian parliamentary report noted that Canada presently cooperates with the United States in defending North America against potential cruise-missile and fighter-plane attacks, the Globe and Mail reported. The committee also noted that Canada, as a member of NATO, supports European ballistic missile defense, so it was puzzling that it does not explicitly endorse having its own antimissile protection.

Canada's senior military commander in the North American Aerospace Defense Command this month testified that joining with the United States in a regional antimissile system would allow for more efficient decision-making in the event of a missile attack on the continent, the Canadian Press reported.

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