Nuclear Crimes: Corporate Profit off an Illegal and Immoral Technology
Dan Parrott


The India-Pakistan nuclear weapons tests in May 1998 focused public concern on the menace of nuclear war. Chretien's willingness to join other countries in imposing economic sanctions is laudable. However, the mainstream media continues to mute the vicious and illegal nature of these weapons, and Canada's role in proliferating nuclear weapons technology around the world.

The nuclear age opened in August 1945, when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombings were not only unjustified, but also totally illegal. International treaties such as the Declaration of St. Petersburg (1868) and the Hague Convention (1907) had set limits on the destructiveness of weapons and the use of violence during war, especially against civilians.

As a result, the bombings became an issue at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (the Tokyo trials) conducted shortly after the war.

Justice Radhabinod Pal of India was the only judge from a third world country, and the only judge with any background in international law. He asserted that the U.S. was under grave suspicion for a "crime against humanity", as the Tokyo Charter defined it as "inhumane acts against any civilian population." In his dissenting judgment Pal concluded, "If any indiscriminate destruction of civilian life and property is still illegitimate in warfare, then, in the Pacific war, this decision to use the atom bomb is the only near approach to the directives of the German Emperor during the first world war and of the Nazi leaders during the second..." Writing twelve years after the Tokyo trials, Justice Roling of the Netherlands commented, "From the Second World War above all two things are remembered: the German gas chambers and the American atomic bombings."

In 1961 the United Nations summed up the law on this issue by declaring "Any State using nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons is to be considered as violating the Charter of the United Nations, as acting contrary to the laws of humanity and as committing a crime against mankind and civilization." Despite the illegalities, Canada began funding nuclear weapons research. In 1946, the Federal government closed a deal with Imperial Chemical Industries of Great Britain, and the U.S. based DuPont Corporation. It brought their Canadian personnel and equipment together at Chalk River to build nuclear reactors. Canada's first reactors, the NRX and the NRU were plutonium producers. Their plutonium went directly to the United States and into its nuclear weapons arsenal. The fact that U.S. nuclear weapons and weapons testing were the moral and legal equivalent of Nazi gas chambers did not seem to bother most Canadian scientists and politicians. Nor did it bother the corporations profiting off the fat publicly subsidized contracts. Their stance was identical to corporations such as Volkswagen, BMW, Ford, Bata Shoes, and Knorr Foods that had profited off concentration camp slave labour.

The public however, was concerned. They began to pressure their Members of Parliament to find out what was going on at Chalk River. To protect their fat contracts, corporations began to develop a disinformation campaign based on the fact that the waste heat from reactors producing plutonium for weapons could be used to generate electricity. By using what environmentalists today call co-generation, corporations could tell the public that they were peaceful electricity producers, while remaining completely integrated in the weapons complex. It is therefore no accident that the industry's foreign customers have been primarily fascist, military-oriented states with long lists of human rights abuses. These include Argentina, South Korea, Romania, and lately China. And of course Canada put both India and Pakistan on the path to nuclear weapons.

In the final analysis we have criminals selling war crimes technology to other criminals. It is time for the public to express its outrage over having to subsidize an industry whose end product plutonium ends up either in criminal weapons or as nuclear waste.