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
Radhabinod Pal of India was the only judge from a third world country,
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."
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.