Who's Online

We have 440 guests online

Popular

3031 readings
Fancy political word play around BMD and the Weaponization of Space PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Friday, 03 December 2004 01:03
Fancy political word play around BMD and the Weaponization of Space

There seems to be a lot of word play around the relationship between BMD and the weaponization of space. In today's Globe & Mail we read:

"Mr. Martin reiterated that Canada opposes putting weapons in space. "I have talked with the President about the whole question. The President says [the program] does not imply the weaponization of space."

"However, long-term Pentagon planning documents suggest ballistic missile defence may well evolve into a space-weapons program over time. Analysts at Mr. Martin's Department of National Defence have reported that it poses a "significant risk" of spreading weapons into space, declassified documents say. "

As sure as BJ = sexual relations (contrary to Clinton's assertion) it sounds like BMD = Weapons in Space (contrary to Martin's assertion).  -- Space & Technology Editor

Martin takes heat o­n missile defence
Prime Minister Paul Martin speaks to reporters after meeting with his cabinet Thursday.
By JEFF SALLOT
From Friday's Globe and Mail
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20041203.wxmissile1203/BNStory/Front/

Ottawa -- Prime Minister Paul Martin says U.S. President George W. Bush has assured him that the ballistic missile defence program will not involve putting weapons in space.

Under pressure from his own caucus Thursday, Mr. Martin tried to buy time to decide whether his government will accept Mr. Bush's invitation to support the program.

Mr. Martin reiterated that Canada opposes putting weapons in space. "I have talked with the President about the whole question. The President says [the program] does not imply the weaponization of space."

However, long-term Pentagon planning documents suggest ballistic missile defence may well evolve into a space-weapons program over time. Analysts at Mr. Martin's Department of National Defence have reported that it poses a "significant risk" of spreading weapons into space, declassified documents say.

The system already uses detection devices in space orbit to locate enemy missiles. Ottawa in August approved the use of these orbiting sensors, which are part of the Canada-U.S. North American Aerospace Defence Command.

But in its present limited configuration, the system's interceptor rockets, intended to destroy incoming missiles, are ground-based.

The Pentagon plans a research and development project to put interceptors into space orbit. An international treaty bans nuclear weapons in space, but says nothing about the type of high-tech weaponry the Pentagon's scientists are working o­n.

NDP House Leader Bill Blaikie said he has some "swamp land in Florida" that he wants to sell Mr. Martin if the Prime Minister really believes ballistic missile defence will not lead to space weapons.

NDP Leader Jack Layton said he raised the issue at a reception o­n Tuesday with Mr. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. He said the Americans were not shy about the possibility of putting weapons in space.

Mr. Bush, according to Mr. Layton, said the United States would not deny itself the possibility of space weapons if the technology materializes.

Liberal MPs say they have been flooded with messages from angry constituents demanding that Canada oppose ballistic missile defence after Mr. Bush asked for co-operation during public appearances in Ottawa and Halifax this week.

Fran?oise Boivin, a Quebec Liberal, said she received at least 200 phone calls and e-mail messages o­n the topic Thursday alone. Normally, she gets about 25 messages a day opposing the program. "I have yet to hear from anyone saying they think we should join missile defence."

Ms. Boivin, chair of the Liberal women's caucus, said the group is going to try to get a resolution opposing ballistic missile defence o­n the agenda at a national party policy conference in March.

The message to Mr. Bush should be to back off and not to push too hard, she said in an interview. "If you push it now you are going to get a 'No' answer real fast."

Opposition is strongest in Quebec, opinion polls suggest, and several Liberal MPs from the province say they are uncomfortable with Mr. Martin's ambiguity o­n the issue.

A senior government source said Mr. Martin's office was blind-sided by Mr. Bush's public call for support o­n missile defence.

Mr. Martin and Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew now seem to be playing for time.

Speaking with reporters after Thursday's cabinet meeting, Mr. Martin said he was not surprised that Mr. Bush made the pitch during his two-day visit. "One of the things that I've made very clear, however, is that Canada will make a decision in Canada's interest, and the timing of that decision will be made in Canada's interest."

Asked how long that might be, Mr. Martin was vague. "Well, obviously I think there is a debate that's got to be held," he said. "We will continue our discussions with the Americans."

The New Democrats and Bloc Qu?b?cois oppose the program, contending that it will set off an arms race in space. The Liberal caucus is deeply divided, sources say. The opposition Conservative caucus, the o­ne group that seemed certain to support Mr. Bush's plan, is sending out mixed messages.

"I think it is in Canada's interest to have a position o­n this," Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said Thursday, but he added that his party is reserving judgment until it learns more.

The United States, Canada and other allies have used space for military purposes for many years. Satellites, for example, are used for warship navigation and communication between military units. But Canada has always drawn a distinction between this kind of "militarization" of space and "weaponization," which Ottawa opposes.

A summary of long-range plans for the U.S. Space Command says the Pentagon envisions developing a space weapon that can be used against "a small number of high-value targets" o­n Earth.

Canada's own military analysts, according to a report declassified earlier this year, say: "A significant risk associated with BMD from the non-proliferation and disarmament perspective is its reinforcement of trends towards the weaponization of outer space."

(c) Copyright 2004 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 December 2004 01:03
 

Latest News