Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium (CCAMU)
Citizens’ Inquiry on the Impacts of the Uranium Cycle
Home Scope of the Inquiry Participants How to participate Counties & Municipalities
About CCAMU CCAMU Supporter Registration Location & Dates Supporting Organizations
   

CANADA'S NUCLEAR HISTORY

submitted by Bill Curry
with permission from Jim Harding, Canada's Deadly Secret (Fernwood 2007)

From A-bombing Hiroshima to Contaminating Iraq with DU

Canada's involvement began during World War II, when Eldorado's Port Radium mine in the NWT was reopened in 1942 for the purpose of mining uranium for the Manhattan Project. By 1943 Canada had become a full-fledged participant because of its fundamental importance to the Project, with Canada being a major source of uranium for the atomic bombs dropped on Japanese civilians at the end of the war.

Eldorado was made into a federal Crown corporation in 1944. Thus began the long history of keeping the deadly secret of the irrevocable connection between state-based nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Nuclear 'development' occurred without any popular knowledge or democratic accountability. For twenty years, from 1942 to 1962. Canadians had no glimmer of our government's central involvement in the creation of the first nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

Canada hasn't only been a resource hinterland for nuclear weaponry, it also played a central technical role in the creation of the first nuclear weapons arsenal. The experimental nuclear reactor constructed in 1945 at Chalk River, Ontario, was the first reactor outside the U.S. used to create weapons-grade plutonium for the U.S. While at the war's end the Canadian government told the Canadian public it was only developing nuclear technology for non-military industrial purposes, it continued to directly supply the U.S. military with plutonium. (p 244)

- o -

Between 1942 and 1954 about 30% of the uranium required for U.S. nuclear weapons' production came from Canada. (p 245)

Between 1956 and 1963, thirty million pounds of uranium were exported from Saskatchewan to the U.S. for weapons' production. (p 245)

Until the 1970, 90% of uranium from Saskatchewan went directly to the U.S., and, as there was no commercial nuclear industry until the mid-1960s, we know that all this uranium went directly into military uses. (p 245)

-o-

The nuclear/uranium industry has operated in a blatantly anti-democratic and secretive manner, and the struggle for sustainability will require a renewed social movement for democratization. For the most part the Canadian public still doesn't know much about this hidden, manipulated history. (p 260)

-o-

Most people in Saskatchewan don't know yet about the uranium industry's connection to the first nuclear arms race (1953-66), let alone the second (1980s-present). And the denial we hear from politicians and corporate spokespeople about any connections to the DU weapons used in Iraq and elsewhere are shameless repeats of past lies claiming that Saskatchewan uranium didn't go into nuclear arsenals. (p 260)

-o-

Though Canada has officially banned exports of nuclear technology or uranium for military purposes since the NPT [nuclear non-proliferation treaty] in 1970, we know that nuclear and uranium industry activities since then have contributed directly to nuclear proliferation. This isclearly true for Candu technology exports, but it is also true for ongoing uranium exports from Saskatchewan to the U.S., France and other countries. It is time we faced the truth. We are at a juncture: the threat of global warming and the challenge of the Kyoto Accord are fundamentally related to the possibility of further wars due to fossil fuel-dependent militaristic industrialization - underscoring the necessity for social and technological transformation and economic conversion to an ecologically sustainable society. (p 261) == "There is no process whereby exported Canadian uranium can be separated from uranium derived from other sources. Therefore no proven method exists for preventing incorporation of Canadian uranium into military applications.... Current Canadian limitations on end uses of uranium provide no reassurance to the public that Canadian uranium is used solely for non-military applications by purchasers." [Joint Federal-Provincial Panel (JFPP) Report (1993) Chair: Don Lee]