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Where is the threat? (questioning the necessity for buying Upholder subs).

The head of Canada's naval forces, Vice-Admiral Greg Maddison, recently defended the decision to buy the Upholder submarines by pointing to the continuing existence of a worldwide "submarine threat." Additional reasons are often cited (see the article on pages 19-22), but the warfighting capability of the Upholders is certainly the primary reason the navy wants them. According to Vice-Admiral Maddison, there will be "well over 600 subs" operating around the world in the year 2000. Such a total is possible if you include minisubs, floating scrap, and the fleet of the West Edmonton Mall, but a more realistic count of the worldwide inventory of attack submarines, compiled by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, is 485 and dropping (482 excluding Canada's existing Oberons).

How many of these subs pose a real or potential threat to Canada? In the past three years, Canada has sold military goods to the owners of 441 of them, which strongly suggests that the government does not anticipate military confrontation with those countries in the foreseeable future. Almost all of the remaining subs are museum pieces. Of the 41 that are owned by countries that have not bought military goods from us recently, only Iran's three Kilo class subs are modern. With the sole exception of Iran, all of the countries possessing modern submarines are Canadian military customers.

Of course, it is possible that we are selling military equipment to people who are going to use it against us. Before buying the Upholders, however, the government would have done well to consider these facts: NATO and our other close allies account for 63 per cent of the world's military spending, or more than one and a half times the amount spent by all other countries - most of which we have very friendly relations with - put together. Even if we were to drastically reduce our military spending Canada and its allies would continue to possess overwhelming strength. NATO members also account for more than 80 per cent of the world's arms exports, so, if there is a military threat out there, it is largely supplied by us. Surely our response to that kind of threat should come in the form of co-operative security efforts, arms control regimes, and restrictions on the export of high-tech combat capabilities.
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Author:Robinson, Bill
Publication:Ploughshares Monitor
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 1, 1998
Words:379
Previous Article:Just say No to missile defence (U.S. intentions to deploy a shield against nuclear weapons signal withdrawal from disarmament negotiation).
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