Countering the Proliferation of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Weapons
A number of states and non-state actors aspire to develop and use chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. The spread—or proliferation—of CBRN weapons and their delivery systems poses a critical threat to Canada, Canadians, our interests and our allies.
The work to counter CBRN weapon proliferation begins at home. Like many of our allies, Canada possesses cutting-edge research and innovation, borders open for trade, and a modern and efficient financial system—strengths which could be exploited by CBRN weapon proliferators. Individuals and networks are active in Canada and around the world, attempting to illegally obtain sensitive and controlled goods and technologies, advanced knowledge and expertise, and financial support on behalf of CBRN weapons programs.
Through its collaboration with international partners, the Government of Canada works to counter the proliferation of CBRN weapons. Over a dozen federal departments and agencies are responsible for a range of activities to prevent proliferators from using any Canadian resources that might contribute to the development of CBRN weapons.
A Canadian manufacturer of oil field equipment was charged and pleaded guilty to attempting to export goods to Iran which were prohibited for export there under the Special Economic Measures Act. These goods had the potential for use in the country's nuclear program.
A Toronto-resident was found guilty of attempting to export pressure transducers from the United States through Canada, and onward to Iran, which is in violation of a number of Canadian statutes.
Public Safety Canada promotes a coordinated approach across government on counter-proliferation policy, which brings together those organizations responsible for the Government of Canada's four areas of focus:
- Prevent states, non-state actors, and individuals from engaging in proliferation related activities;
- Protect integrity of financial sector. Deter proliferators from using Canada's financial system through know-your-customer requirements and other preventive measures.
- Outreach. Build awareness within Canadian and international industry, academia, the scientific community, financial institutions and the broader public of relevant legal and regulatory requirements, obligations and proliferation risks.
- Capacity building. Assist international partners in developing capacity and physical protection measures to address proliferation threats, in order to reduce risks and share investigative, programming and enforcement burdens more equitably.
- Diplomacy and advocacy. Promote universality, implementation and strengthening of relevant multilateral initiatives and international legal instruments.
- Detect proliferation-related threats and activities, domestically and internationally;
- Intelligence and risk assessments. Monitor and evaluate threats posed by WMD programs and proliferation networks and support partners' counter-proliferation activities with threat assessments, risk assessments, screening of individuals and entities, and advice.
- End-user verification. Verify that parties seeking sensitive goods and knowledge from or through Canada are legitimate end users.
- Tracking Scientific Developments. Conduct research and analysis (not specifically threat-related) to remain aware of new scientific and technological developments that may have proliferation implications.
- Deny organizations and states the ability to acquire or transfer proliferation-related goods, information and funds; and
- Export and border controls. Review applications for export licenses and support regulatory denials as appropriate; maintain comprehensive export control lists, including through implementation of the multilateral export control arrangements; inspect, detain or seize shipments of concern; and, interdict WMD proliferation-related cargo (sea, land, air).
- Immigration controls. Prevent non-citizens who pose a proliferation risk from entering or remaining in Canada through visa refusals and determining inadmissibility.
- Facility/Goods Access. Protect proliferation-sensitive facilities, goods and knowledge from theft and unauthorized access and review foreign investment in sensitive Canadian industries.
- Respond rapidly and effectively to ongoing proliferation-related activity.
- Law Enforcement. Investigate and prosecute criminal offences related to proliferation, proliferation financing and illicit procurement and trafficking.
- Regulatory Compliance. Investigate and penalize breaches of security regulations and control measures.
- Sanctions. Implement and enforce targeted sanctions in support of Canadian foreign policy objectives, and multilateral commitments, including UN Security Council Resolutions.
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) leads Canada's international engagement on non-proliferation and disarmament. Measures include economic sanctions, multilateral efforts to combat proliferation and promote nuclear security, and the development of international capacity to halt proliferators. DFATD also chairs the Government's Counter-Proliferation Operations Committee, coordinating responses to threats within Canada.
Canada Border Services Agency disrupts, prevents and investigates the illicit export and proliferation of strategic goods and technology.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is responsible for the licensing of nuclear-related activities, including the export of nuclear and nuclear-related goods.
Public Works and Government Services Canada administers the Controlled Goods Program, ensuring only those who have been assessed for security concerns have access to controlled goods.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is the national authority on biosafety and biosecurity for human pathogens and toxins.
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