Volume #26 - 219.|
RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES
DEFENCE AND SECURITY ISSUES
BALLISTIC MISSILE EARLY WARNING SYSTEM
Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Secretary of State for External Affairs
June 25th, 1959|
BALLISTIC MISSILE EARLY WARNING SYSTEM|
Over the past two years the United States authorities have been giving a good deal of thought to the defence of North America against ballistic missiles, and a high priority has been given to measures to deal with it because of the general recognition that ICBM's will represent a major air threat from 1961 on.
2. In essence the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) will be made up of three long range radars located in Alaska, Greenland and Scotland linked to NORAD Headquarters by separate and highly reliable communications routes. Canada, however, is only concerned with the link between the radars in Greenland and Alaska. It is expected that the link between Fairbanks and NORAD Headquarters will be provided by commercial telegram facilities (in Canada, the CNT). The link from Greenland, however, will be by submarine cable from Thule to Cape Dyer, Baffin Island, a further submarine cable to Newfoundland and thence to Colorado Springs. No new communications routes over Canadian territory are planned where existing government and commercial facilities are adequate. BMEWS, when completed, will be an integral and essential part of the North American continental defence system.
3. Canada's contribution will be solely to provide certain rearward communications facilities in Canada, built, operated and maintained at the expense of the United States. The attached draft? of the United States Note, which with an appropriate reply would constitute the overall agreement, does not mention specific sites or routes to be granted in Canada, as the Notes will be made public. The agreement, however, is designed to provide a general framework for both the Alaskan and the Greenland links. With regard to the former, the United States authorities have assured us that no action to establish facilities in Canada will be taken without prior detailed discussion with the Canadian authorities. As regards the Greenland link, to which the present agreement will apply initially, a supplementary agreement will be required to cover the landing of the cable from Thule and Cape Dyer.
4. I believe that under the terms of this proposal Canada's interests will be adequately safe-guardded and advanced. I would mention the following particular points:
(a) all planning with regard to sites or strips, roads, buildings, etc., will be done in coopera-tion with the Canadian authorities and carried out by mutual agreement;
(b) classified letters will be exchanged between the United States Air Force and the Department of Defence Production covering the arrangements under which all construction in Canadian territory will be carried out by Canadian contractors;
(c) all electronic equipment will, as far as practicable, be manufactured in Canada; the question of practicability being resolved on the basis of an assessment of such factors as availability at the time, cost and performance;
(d) provision is made for Canada to take over on reasonable notice the operation and manning of any or all the installations in Canada;
(e) United States personnel at the sites may not exceed the minimum to operate the facilities effectively.
5. BMEWS will, in time, require development of plans, equipment and facilities for an active defence against ICBM's, closely linked to the warning system. Because the "state of the art," and in particular the development of an anti-missile missile, has not yet developed sufficiently, it is not possible to estimate what the implications for Canada will be. However, we have been assured of being kept fully in the picture as regards developments in this phase of BMEWS. Specifically, the United States authorities have agreed to an exchange of letters providing for the closest possible consultation and a constant exchange of timely information on all aspects of anti-missile defence, the purpose of which would be to explore the implications for Canada of the system and to provide for the maximum degree of Canadian participation in its overall development.
6. As you may recall, on November 12, 1958,465 the Cabinet approved an earlier United States draft Note, subject to certain amendments. These have all been accepted by the United States authorities. They have also agreed to certain other amendments which other Departments sub-sequently wished to have made. The process of obtaining complete agreement has been a long one because of the number of Departments of both Governments concerned. If you agree that the United States Note is acceptable, I would recommend that you let me have your authority to sign an appropriate reply.
7. Some urgency attaches to this matter as there is need to let the necessary contracts by June 29 if full advantage is to be taken of the very short construction season.466
465Voir/See Volume 25, Document 124.
466Note marginale :/Marginal note: