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President's Corner

Why Not Test The Worth Of New Ideas Instead Of New Weapons?

The nations of the world may be at a critical crossroads that can make the world a safer place for coming generations if the way of international cooperation is taken instead of military confrontation. It is now expected that the US will sign an agreement eliminating an entire category of nuclear weapons when Gorbachev comes to Washington this month. Concluding this agreement would demonstrate to both the Soviet Union and the USA that they can deal productively with each other. This could set the stage for further cooperation.

In such a situation of renewed hope and opportunity we urge a higher priority be given in Canada’s political agenda to parallel contributions to peaceful and cooperative measures. One such measure would be to end testing of cruise missiles in Canada as soon as the INF agreement is signed.

Another contribution would be Canada’s joining other countries at the United Nations in urging both superpowers to live up to their obligation under the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 and Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 and put an effective brake on the nuclear arms race by concluding a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty This should be pursued — instead of the current step-by-step approach toward a threshold agreement allowing both sides to continue testing nuclear weapons, albeit at a reduced magnitude.

At a time when even American policy is undergoing a welcome change in response to new Soviet thinking on international security issues, we believe that Canada, too, should reconsider its trend toward increased military activity as reflected in the Defence White Paper. Experience has demonstrated that a policy of escalating military arsenals results in response in kind from other parties. In particular, we regard the proposal to acquire ten to twelve nuclear-powered submarines as moving in the wrong direction. Opportunities to revive the flagging hopes of using the United Nations more effectively for international peacekeeping and peacemaking should not be missed.

The Honourable Howard Green raised the issue of the militarization of outer space in Geneva as early as 1961. Since it has been in the forefront of advocacy of the exclusion of the military from outer space, Canada should exert all possible effort to preserve the ABM Treaty. We should also be urging the USA to associate itself with the unilateral moratorium on deploying anti-satellite weapons in space. This is surely in Canada’s interest, considering the investment already made by Canadians in the peaceful uses of outer space for purposes of communications,monitoring and other peaceful applications of satellite technology.

Finally, Canada as a major Arctic power should take the initiative in striving to develop a consensus among circumpolar states to undertake a peaceful cooperation program in the region. It is in the common interest of all states to preserve the fragile environment of the Arctic. Its demilitarization will mean preserving life itself of its inhabitants. Science for Peace is playing its part by convoking with CTIPS a conference of scientists and experts in 1988 to identify practical proposals of peaceful cooperation for the area in the hope that this conference will provide some of the elements of a cooperative Arctic peace policy.

Two additional conferences on the Arctic are being considered, one planned by the True North Strong and Free Organization(Edmonton),the other by the Canadian Peace Alliance. The three would explore different facets of Arctic problems.

Advent this year is a time of hope that must not be squandered.

Greetings of the Season — for Peace among Nations and the Betterment of the Human Condition

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