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How Can Trudeau Boost Nuclear Security While Cutting Military?

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, a conference dedicated to preventing possible terrorist attacks using nuclear technology.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in the opening plenary session during the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., on Friday, April 1, 2016. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in the opening plenary session during the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., on Friday, April 1, 2016. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

More than fifty country leaders joined to discuss the growing terrorist menace -- Islamic State in particular -- and possible nuclear smuggling. Intelligence-sharing was discussed as to improve cooperation against future terrorist attacks.

Initiated by U.S. President Barrack Obama, the Nuclear Security Summit was particularly interesting this year as the latest attacks in Brussels involved spying on nuclear officials by an Islamic State collaborator.

According to CBC News, Carl Robichaud, an expert in strengthening nuclear security with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, said that: "an ISIS associate had this footage seized from a videotape showing the comings and goings of a nuclear scientist and his family. That suggests that there was an interest in nuclear and radiological material."

Islamic State (IS) has searched for radioactive material to build "dirty bombs." As a matter of fact, iridium capsules were stolen from storage facility last February in Basra, Iraq.

Security analysts also believes Al-Qaeda and Japan's Aum Shinrikyo have been actively seeking radioactive materials for years.

Canada's effort for nuclear non-proliferation

Canada has announced its intentions to push for the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. The Treaty would "effectively and verifiably ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices," according to the Global Affairs Canada website.

"We must take the necessary steps to enhance our collective security so that Canadians and others around the world can feel safe and free in their communities," Trudeau said in a statement before Thursday's summit.

Canada ranks third out of twenty-four, with a note of 87%, on the Nuclear Threat Initiative's Nuclear Security Index for the security measures taken to protect nuclear materials that could be used to build "dirty bombs."

That said, I believe Canada's focus on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty is non-essential; at least not at this time. Trudeau has the ability to forge solid relationship on the fight--because he won't use war--against terrorism and should concentrate on that specific issue.

Canada is not in a position to try and hammer down a Treaty when it pulled its aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State. The Summit and the coalition might be two different things, but many allies to taking part in both. Because of that, Trudeau's plan is doomed to fail as we took a big hit on credibility when we pulled our aircraft.

Our Canadian Prime Minister should've focused on listening and learning during this Summit instead of trying and push his own agenda. By doing so, Trudeau might've learned valuable experience when it comes to fight terrorism -- even if it's a delicate subject for him.

Although we stand third out of twenty-four on the Security Index, I do believe security should be enhanced, especially with the recent Brussels attacks. Ontario has many nuclear power plants and could become a potential target for future terrorist attacks.

Canada to contribute $42M

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged more than $42 million for global efforts to protect against the use of fissile materials. What amazes me is that Canada's 2016 budget postponed more than $3.7 billion in military spending.

Out of $42M, we are allowing more than $26.5M to fund training and equipment in Mexico, Colombia, Jordan and Peru while our Canadian soldiers are desperately in need of equipment. As a veteran, I know how difficult it is to go and exchange uniforms because there is always a shortage, and this is only one example. Meanwhile, we're sending millions of dollars abroad for equipment.

How can we pledge money to fight against nuclear terrorism when the Liberals postponed part of the Canadian Forces modernization budget? Our soldiers are greatly in need of new equipment; equipment that could be one day use against nuclear terrorism.

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful Canada is fighting nuclear terrorism but every penny spent on security should be redirected to the Canadian Forces.

International community fears possible attacks

The international community has expressed fears on many occasions against possible use of nuclear weapons by terrorist organizations. That said, it remains ambiguous how the threat of nuclear terrorism is. With IS stealing iridium capsule in Iraq, the threat of nuclear terrorism is definitely there. There is a possibility we could see "dirty bombs" with radioactive materials in the next few years in the Middle East. In my opinion, Europe and the rest of the world could also be targeted within the next decade or so.

The international community also believes it is high enough to justify the Nuclear Security Summit.

I have seen many different type of "dirty bombs" or improvised explosive devices (IED) when I deployed in Kandahar, Afghanistan back in 2009.

Some were so sophisticated that they were almost impossible to defuse and would be blown in place (BIP). Many of these IEDs were almost invisible and looked like normal trash. Adding radioactive materials and targeting high-density populated areas would be catastrophic, especially due to the fact that it is practically impossible to find them.

So the Summit is, in my opinion, a very important event that could bolster the participant countries' security and prevention against future small-scale nuclear attacks by terrorist organizations.

"A terrorist attack with an improvised nuclear device would create political, economic, social, psychological and environmental havoc," said Laura Holgate, a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism and Threat Reduction on the National Security Council.

According to CBC News, "since 2009, countries participating in the summit have eliminated enough nuclear material for 1,500 nuclear weapons."

Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend the summit but sent observers. Putin believes the issue should be addressed by the five international organizations working on it including the United Nations, Interpol and the Atomic Energy Agency.

While I agree with Mr. Putin, I believe more talks on the issue are welcomed. Quite frankly, even in his absence, Russia will benefit from this Summit since their observers will bring back valuable information.

The Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, had to cancel his presence due to the Eastern Sunday suicide bombings in Lahore. The attack killed seventy and was claimed by the Pakistan Taiban's Jamaat-ur-Ahrar faction, who swore allegiance to Islamic State. The bombings targeted Christians.

Nine countries are believed to have nuclear weapons: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, Pakistan, India, North Korea and Israel.

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