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Cruise missiles, drones could slip past US shield PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Sunday, 11 January 2004 12:38

Ottawa Citizen: Low-flying cruise missiles or unmanned drones outfitted with weapons of mass destruction could be used by other countries to slip under the Pentagon'smissile defence shield, according to a Department of National Defencereport. The development of the shield could also contribute to the spread of weaponsof mass destruction as nations upgrade their missile arsenals and seek new methods to counter the U.S. system, military analysts warn.

Cruise missiles, drones could slip past U.S. shieldRogue nations to seek new ways to counter system, Canada warns

David PuglieseThe Ottawa Citizen

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Low-flying cruise missiles or unmanned drones outfitted with weapons of massdestruction could be used by other countries to slip under the Pentagon'smissile defence shield, according to a Department of National Defencereport.

The development of the shield could also contribute to the spread of weaponsof mass destruction as nations upgrade their missile arsenals and seek new methods to counter the U.S. system, military analysts warn.

"Competitor states could seek to overwhelm missile defences throughqualitative and quantitative improvements to their missile fleets, or simplyattempt to circumvent such defences through the aggressive exploitation ofcruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicle technologies," states thereport, produced in March. The study, marked secret, was declassified underthe Access to Information law.

The title of the report has been censored, but the document states the issuebeing examined is whether Canada should begin negotiations with the U.S. toparticipate in the Pentagon's ballistic missile defence system.

Defence Minister David Pratt confirmed Thursday that the Canadian governmentis seeking more detailed information about the missile shield as it tries todecide whether to participate.

The study lends support to concerns voiced by some Canadian militaryofficials at the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) that aterrorist group or enemy nation could hide cruise missiles or aerial droneson a commercial freighter and launch those o­nce close to the shores of NorthAmerica. Such a scenario would give the U.S. or Canada little warning timeof an attack. As well, cruise missiles fly low to avoid detection.

"If you were positioned off Halifax and fired o­ne, you could take out thatport quite nicely because there are no defences deployed there that couldknock down a cruise missile," said

Brian MacDonald, a defence analyst and retired Canadian Forces colonel.

Mr. MacDonald said fighter aircraft could be used to shoot down cruisemissiles fired at coastal cities such as Vancouver or Halifax if they couldbe scrambled in time. Anti-aircraft systems could also be used if they wereset up before an attack. "But there is no structure set up to provide thatparticular defence capability at the moment," he added.

"Ballistic missile defence is designed to deal with ballistic missiles andonly ballistic missiles."

Countering the threat of cruise missiles or drones hidden o­n boardcommercial vessels would be extremely expensive, as it would requirechecking every ship approaching North America, Mr. MacDonald said. The othermethod around the missile defence shield would be to place a weapon aboard afreighter, sail the ship into a U.S. or Canadian harbour, and then detonatethe device, Mr. MacDonald noted.

Under U.S. President George W. Bush's missile defence plan, interceptorrockets will be placed in Alaska and California, as well as o­n ships, toshoot down incoming ballistic missiles as they enter the atmosphere. Theshield is designed to protect the U.S. from attack by missiles armed withnuclear or chemical weapons and fired from countries such as North Korea orIran.

The Canadian defence department study estimated that since 1953, the U.S.has spent $200 billion o­n various missile defence programs.

The study notes the ballistic missile defence system, also known as BMD,could provide Canadian companies with significant contracts for high-techwork, but o­nly if the Canadian government supports the U.S. plan. "In otherwords, Washington for the most part is limiting industrial benefits to thosenations that actually endorse the concept of BMD politically," it adds.

The report also emphasizes concerns in the military that Norad's role couldbe diminished if Canada decides not to join the American shield. That couldaffect Canada's ability to maintain surveillance of its airspace at areasonable cost, according to the report.

Norad, operated by the U.S. and Canada, is responsible for monitoring andprotecting the approaches to the continent. The Pentagon would like to seethe missile shield operated out of that organization.

? The Ottawa Citizen 2004

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Last Updated on Sunday, 11 January 2004 12:38
 

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