Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

U.S.-India nuclear deal a non-proliferation disaster

August 22, 2008
Countries like Canada must stand up to Bush and say this is a bad deal with dire consequences
The Toronto Star, Aug 21, 2008 04:30 AM

This week a select group of countries, Canada among them, will vote on a proposed nuclear deal between the U.S. and India that could lead to the further spread of nuclear weapons. With limited attention paid to this issue at home, indications are that Canada may be on the verge of making a grave mistake by supporting this deal. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

If Canada were to courageously stand against this deal, it wouldn’t be alone. Austria, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland all expressed concern last month.

Today and tomorrow, the 45 members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group – the alliance of countries that seeks to control trade in “dual-use” nuclear fuel, materials and technology – will be asked to consider the Bush administration’s proposal to exempt India from having to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a condition of receiving nuclear technology and fuel.

The NPT is signed by 189 countries and has three key pillars: non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. To be implemented, the U.S.-India nuclear deal requires approval by the Indian parliament, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the U.S. Congress.

So far, India and the IAEA have approved it.

If the U.S. wins exemption for India, the deal would be a non-proliferation disaster. It would be a Bush legacy the world could do without. The deal will lead to greater nuclear proliferation.

Treaties like the NPT, meant to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, have been unravelling. There are four nuclear weapons states that do not belong to the NPT: India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – the first state to actually quit the NPT while announcing its intention to develop nuclear weapons. Negotiations are still ongoing on compensating North Korea for agreeing to relinquish its nuclear weapons program.

Supporters of the U.S.-India nuclear deal argue that this bilateral agreement will help thwart the spread of nuclear weapons because it places 14 of India’s 22 reactors under IAEA monitoring. However, this deal allows India to continue thumbing its nose at the only legal, multilateral non-proliferation treaty the globe has, since it will not require India to join the NPT.

Additionally, unlike 178 other countries, India has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty prohibiting the testing of nuclear weapons, and continues to produce reactor grade material and expand its nuclear arsenal via the remaining reactors not available to the IAEA for inspection. In fact, the deal guarantees India an uninterrupted supply of fuel without obligating it to sign the test ban treaty.

Organizations and experts, including the Rideau Institute, are raising the alarm. An Aug. 15 letter sent to all 45 foreign ministers of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, including David Emerson, by more than 150 NGOs and experts from 24 countries, noted that, “this deal, if approved, would give India rights and privileges of civil nuclear trade that have been reserved only for members in good standing under the NPT. It creates a dangerous distinction between `good’ proliferators and `bad’ proliferators and sends out misleading signals to the international community with regard to NPT norms.”

This special deal for India has not gone unnoticed by its rivals, Pakistan and China.

Adding fuel to the fire, Iran, which is a member of the NPT – unlike India – points to the deal as an example of the dangerous “good-bad” double standard. It is livid at the hypocrisy, pointing out that Israel is probably quietly lobbying for its own special deal. Iran has a right to have a civil nuclear program, but there are ample reasons to distrust its intentions. The U.S.-India nuclear deal does make a diplomatic solution even more difficult to achieve.

Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, cautioned that, “There is serious concern that the United States has taken this step with the intention to create a precedent and pave the way for Israel to continue its clandestine [nuclear] weapons activities.” In other words, the U.S.-India deal will embolden other countries to undermine the NPT as well. And with the 2010 review conference of the NPT looming, there is much at skate.

Canada has options. This week at the Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting, Canada could coalesce with Austria, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, and demand that India signs two treaties – the Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty, which stipulates that India halt production of reactor grade material, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty – as a precondition for their support of the U.S.-India deal. Who knows, other countries may also be emboldened to stand up and say this is a bad deal with awful consequences. No one country has to be alone in standing up to George Bush.

Alternatively, these countries could ask for more time to study the proposed exemption. Such a delay would spell the end of the deal because the U.S. Congress cannot consider and vote on the deal until the Nuclear Suppliers Group approves it. If this agreement doesn’t land back in Washington by late September, it could not be approved during the remaining lifespan of Bush’s administration, effectively killing the deal.

However, if Canada were to support the U.S. on this deal, it would be abandoning its long-standing position as a strong supporter of nuclear non-proliferation, and instead, be supporting Bush’s legacy of undermining the most effective mechanism we have to avoid the spread of nuclear weapons in the world.

Here’s hoping this Bush legacy doesn’t come to fruition.

Anthony Salloum is the program director of the Rideau Institute, which serves as the global secretariat to Abolition 2000, a network of more than 2,000 organizations working for a global treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons.

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INDIGENOUS PEOPLE: U.S. and Canada Found Guilty of Racism

August 8, 2008

By Haider Rizvi | Inter Press Service

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 7 – The international community now fully recognises the native peoples’ right to protect their lands and live distinct lifestyles. Yet, most of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples continue to face abuse and injustices at the hands of state authorities and commercial concerns.

“We must look at the substantial successes we have been able to achieve, but also reflect on how far we have to go,” Ben Powless of the Indigenous Environment Network told IPS on the eve of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

Though pleased with the U.N. General Assembly’s decision last year to approve the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, Powless and other activists say they have no reason to believe that those who have occupied their native lands are willing to change their behaviour.

“Governments in the past have been complicit in genocides, land seizures, massive environmental degradation, and many other human rights abuses because [indigenous peoples] were denied their fundamental rights and freedoms,” said Powless, a Mohawk whose nation’s territory is now divided between modern-day Canada and the United States.

Last year when the 193-member U.N. General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, both the U.S. and Canada were among a handful of countries that voted against it.

“This shows how far we still have to go to make sure that states acknowledge and protect indigenous peoples’ rights, for if they continue not to, we have many examples of the grave results,” said Powless.

Recently, both the U.S. and Canada were found guilty by a Geneva-based U.N. rights watchdog, which keeps track of violations of the 1968 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) told Canada to take “appropriate legislative or administrative measures to prevent the acts of transnational corporations on indigenous territories.”

CERD took the Canadian government to task in response to a petition filed by indigenous organisations that charged private businesses from Canada were unlawfully involved in the exploitation of their lands located in the U.S.

The petition particularly focused on the situation facing the Western Shoshone — a Native American tribe whom some non-natives refer to as “Snake Indians,” although in their own language they are called Newe people.

Continued . . .

NATO states agree to send more forces to Afghanistan

July 27, 2008

The Peninsula, July 27, 2008

Source ::: Reuters

KABUL • NATO countries have agreed to send more troops to the volatile south of Afghanistan, Canada’s foreign minister said yesterday, and another 200 Canadian troops could also be deployed.

Canada has some 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, most of them stationed in the southern province of Kandahar where they have suffered one of the worst casualty rates fighting a resilient Taliban insurgency.

“We’ve been talking with our NATO allies and in fact we do now have commitments to increase the number of troops particularly in the Kandahar region,” Canadian Foreign Minister David Emerson told a news conference in Kabul.

“We’re really more comforted that the troop support is being increased in an appropriate way,” he said.

Canadian soldiers first came to Afghanistan in late 2001 as part of a US-led Afghan mission to overthrow the hardline Taliban. In 2006, Canadian troops took over operations in Kandahar, the Taliban’s former de-facto capital. Faced with some of the fiercest fighting in Afghanistan, Canada has criticised other countries for refusing to send troops to the south, where the insurgency is strongest.

Asked if Canada was going to increase its own contingent in Afghanistan, Emerson said it could send some 200 soldiers.

“Canada does have 2,500 troops here in Afghanistan and that number could expand to 2,700 as more equipment arrives,” he said.

“We are really talking about a significant increase in the contribution from other countries and that contribution has been forthcoming,” he said.

Emerson, on his first trip to Afghanistan since taking office in May, said he had visited “his team” in Kandahar and Kabul to ensure they were well organised.

Asked if more troops were the only solution in Afghanistan, Emerson said there needed to be a more “complete reconciliation”.

“But it is going to take some military capacity and military activity to get Afghanistan to the point where a more comprehensive, a more permanent solution can take effect,” he said.

Support for U.S. war resisters in Canada

July 17, 2008

HUNDREDS OF protesters gathered in front of Canadian consulates in 14 U.S. cities on July 10 to protest planned deportations of conscientious objector Corey Glass and other U.S. war resisters currently seeking refuge in Canada.

Glass, a National Guard sergeant who served in Iraq in 2005, moved to Toronto in 2006 rather than face the prospect of again participating in what he considered “an unjust war.”

“When I joined the national guard,” Glass explained at a May press conference, “they told me the only way I would be in combat is if there were troops occupying the United States…I signed up to defend people and do humanitarian work filling sandbags if there was a hurricane; I should have been in New Orleans, not Iraq.”

{ What you can do:

Contact the offices of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley to demand that U.S. war resisters be given asylum in Canada.

Harper’s office can be reached by calling 613-992-4211 or e-mailing pm@pm.gc.ca; Finley’s office can be reached by calling 613-996-4974 and e-mailing finley.d@parl.gc.ca or finled1@parl.gc.ca.

For more information about U.S. war resisters in Canada, and what you can do to support them, visit Courage to Resist or the War Resisters Support Campaign. }

In June, Glass was given deportation orders, set for July 10, prompting the antiwar organizations Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace and Project Safe Haven to call the emergency protests at consulates across the U.S.

In San Francisco, Courage to Resist was joined by members of the Raging Grannies, Veterans for Peace Chapter 69, American Friends Service Committee, BAY-Peace, the Campus Antiwar Network, Code Pink and the International Socialist Organization. The rally numbered close to 50 participants at its peak.

Shortly after the demonstrations, activists received word that a the Canadian Federal Court had granted Glass a last-minute reprieve, giving him the opportunity to appeal earlier rulings over the next few months, with the hope of remaining in Canada.

Organizer and veteran Adam Seibert explained the role he felt the protests played: “If you don’t have troops, you can’t have a war. The more troops who resist, the easier it is to stop the war–and the more visible public support that exists the easier it is for other troops to resist…Seventy-five percent of Conscientious Objector applications are denied, so for most soldiers resisting is the only option.

Continued . . .


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