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This discussion group exchanges comments and articles that are relevant, directly or indirectly, to a future Arctic, free of nuclear weapons.  Content, for example, could relate to:-  climate change as related to broadly defined security, nuclear-weapon-free-zones, and human security for the new Arctic.  Members send relevant articles in the media or on the web  to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Input re Feb 7, 2018 NGO Roundtable Discussion, Ottawa- ARCTIC POLICY FRAMEWORK

Arctic Peace and Security Policy Issues

 By Adele Buckley, Canadian Pugwash Group
Project Leader – Proposals for a Nuclear Weapon Free Arctic



 6. The Arctic in a global context

 The history of the circumpolar nations has been one of cooperation, of necessity in the harsh polar environment, and for the mutual benefit of all. As the Arctic opens to greatly enlarged economic and governance activity, there is significant risk that competition and confrontation will occur, and that the presently non-militarized Arctic could change dramatically, in a non-beneficial manner. To this end, it is important that the Arctic should be free of nuclear weapons, and that positive actions by the non-nuclear-weapon circumpolar states should commence in the immediate future. Canada, with its vast territories and extensive coastline is in a key position to draft its Arctic Policy to include its aspiration for a nuclear-weapon-free Arctic, and to take an international leadership role.

 In this context, it is very important to recall the 1983 Declaration of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) on a Nuclear Free Arctic. Re-Issue of an updated Declaration by the ICC could have a powerful impact on the international community and influence progress toward a nuclear-weapon-free Arctic. Canadian Pugwash, together with its international contacts, has significant expertise in current political status of nuclear weapons and would gladly offer assistance in producing updated wording of the Declaration.

 When and if the circumpolar non-nuclear-weapon states agree on the nuclear-weapon-free goal, they could approach the United Nations, which would readily offer assistance in forming a Treaty. Russia and the United States, over time, could have reason to withdraw nuclear weapons from this very limited geographic region. Alternatively, true militarization of the Arctic is a possibility, in which case the nuclear weapons of China, Britain and France might also be deployed in the Arctic. Without changing the security strategy presently employed by NW states and their allies, a nuclear-weapon-free Arctic offers a model situation for working out methodology for reduction of NW, verification and eventual nuclear disarmament.

 China, in its new Arctic Policy, has announced its intention to be a key player, to expend major resources to that effect, and, in particular, to facilitate a ‘Polar Silk Road’ . The newly issued policy is aspirational, rather than specific. The policy states ‘Peace and stability in the Arctic provides a significant guarantee for all activities in the region,and serves the fundamental interest of all countries including China’. Every nation involved in the Arctic at present or in the future should and could adopt this stance, but if there is conflict, military activity, including deployment of weapons, could result. China and others would possibly be prompted to send nuclear-weapon equipped submarines; probably forever closing the opportunity for a nuclear-weapon free Arctic. This is the reason why the Government of Canada should act now.



 Several agenda items of the Arctic Policy Framework connect to the themes expressed under the heading of global context, so these connections are briefly addressed here.

 Since China has claimed the status of a ‘near-Arctic-nation’ and will expend huge resources to take advantage of the opportunity; China will influence and contribute to all segments of Arctic issues- transport, environmental, scientific, economic, fishing, tourism

 6.1 Comprehensive Arctic Infrastructure

 Infrastructure, though very costly, must be built; that funded by Chinese interests will be mutually beneficial, but at what cost to Canadian sovereignty? Submarine cables, including fibre-optic cables, serve the interest of all stakeholders. Replacement of failed infrastructure due to permafrost collapse, methane leaks etc. needs to be included in planning.

 6.2 Strong Arctic people and communities

 Arctic people and communities will be strong and safe, only in the absence of military activity, including the absence of subsurface nuclear weapons, and all the geopolitical ramifications thereof.

 6.3 Strong sustainable and diversified Arctic economies

 Arctic economies will thrive and grow properly only if there is a significant increase in population of Canada’s north

6.4 Arctic science and indigenous knowledge

The Canadian government, through increased financial and targeted support, must acquire data on a myriad of facets of the Arctic. China plans extensive scientific research. A cooperative plan for Chinese and Canadian scientists should make acquired data and knowledge mutually available, preferably to all circumpolar sovereign nations. Scientific research will be fruitful in an atmosphere of cooperation and a non-militarized environment.

 6.5 Protecting the environment and conserving Arctic biodiversity

 An Arctic Ocean with subsurface nuclear weapon equipped submarines can not avoid mishaps and perhaps major accidents, all of which will permanently damage the environment. If, as has been already considered, NATO has military exercises in the north, unnecessary emissions will occur, and damage to the environment is also a likely result.


CONTACT: Adele Buckley, Ph.D., 6 Tepee Court, Toronto ON M2J3A9 416 491 9307

Protect the Arctic by a Treaty establishing an Arctic

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone

read pdf

The icy high Arctic, isolated and inaccessible, is melting rapidly. Within a decade or two, in the summer months, goods will be carried in active shipping lanes using shorter routes through the ice-free waters of the Arctic Ocean. These changes are creating a new security environment, and even today, circumpolar nations are adding to their military capabilities for the new Arctic. The Arctic Ocean littoral states agreed under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on methodology for territorial claims to the coastlines and seabed. Joint protocols, both bilateral and multilateral, are being developed to protect indigenous populations, northern communities, and their environment, plan search-and-rescue operations, implement shipping regulations, and plan sustainable exploitation of fisheries and seabed hydrocarbon resources. A military presence under these circumstances would not be unusual. But this is the time to recognize that nuclear weapons must have no place in the Arctic. The peaceful collaboration now operating in many joint efforts is an example to be emulated in planning for an Arctic Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (ANWFZ), covering the portion of the globe north of the Arctic Circle. Implementing this security measure would be a giant move toward denuclearization, because it involves two nuclear weapon states - the United States and Russia, and it would build confidence toward the next reduction of nuclear weapons, beyond the New START treaty. The ANWFZ could be accomplished step by step over several years, synchronizing with international efforts on other facets of arms control and disarmament.


  • Many countries with sovereign territory in the Arctic are part of NATO, a nuclear alliance
  • Arctic nations U.S. and Russia are nuclear weapon states and recognized as such under the Non-Proliferation Treaty
  • Arctic territory (land) in the United States is free of nuclear weapons; the Russian Federation relies upon the Arctic region in basing, deployment and transit of nuclear weapons
  • Modalities for establishing a nuclear-weapon-free Arctic are not yet in the security policy planning of the circumpolar states
  • There will be no territorial claims beyond the UNCLOS exclusive economic zones. Denuclearization of the entire Arctic Ocean would require, at the least, an agreement between all nuclear weapon states, notwithstanding the UNCLOS requirement of preservation of the high seas for peaceful purposes


Each nuclear-weapon-free zone is specific to the geography and politics of the participating sovereign states, e.g. rules for transit of nuclear weapons vary from zone to zone. Arctic peoples must be an integral part of the process of negotiation. Let nations proceed with urgency, being mindful of the need to assist the Arctic/High
North peoples – indigenous and non-indigenous – for preservation of the environment, security from conflict, and adaptation to climate change.

This statement originated with the Arctic Security Working Group, Canadian Pugwash – April & May, 2010


  • Decrease the role of nuclear weapons in military planning
  • Ensure that NATO accommodates the possibility of an ANWFZ
  • Cooperate with the Arctic non-nuclear weapon states -Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden - to enable those states to establish a NWFZ in theirown territories, as recommended in “Call for an Arctic Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, the declaration of a conference in Copenhagen, in August 2009” []
  • Enable removal of Russian Federation and United States nuclear weapons from the Arctic by negotiating a significant, verifiable, nuclear arsenal reduction treaty that would result in strategic parity between Russia and the United States


  • Negotiate a nuclear-weapon-free zone to be established in their own territories north of the Arctic Circle; include the nuclear weapons states in these negotiations, as a prelude to these states including their own Arctic territories in the ANWFZ
  • Actively promote a step-by-step approach; for example - involving at first the terrestrial territory, followed by negotiations for sea and airspace
  • Ensure that NATO removes any restrictions on a NATO member country that would militate against establishing the ANWFZ , such as an agreement to station nuclear weapons on their territory in time of war


IDEA OF AN ARCTIC NUCLEAR WEAPON-FREE ZONE: International treaties covering many issues relevant to the Arctic/High North are required in the near term. The Arctic Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, the subject of a lengthy negotiation in itself, would not take precedence. The expectation of an ANWFZ must, however, be a background to each negotiation, and each international meeting on Arctic matters. Civil society groups and academia can contribute:

  • Expertise and research, reporting findings to the circumpolar governments and making recommendations for action
  • Connection with relevant reviews and conferences of the United Nations, and other international organizations. For example, the Non-Proliferation Treaty encourages any group of states to conclude regional agreements

Civil Society Goal: Keep the ANWFZ at the forefront of their interaction with all nuclear and Arctic non-nuclear governments until such time as these governments are committed to carrying the process forward

Establishment of an Arctic Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone is a confidence building step toward nuclear disarmament


This is a statement of Canadian Pugwash, national affiliate of the Pugwash

Conferences on Science and World Affairs

JUNE, 2011

This statement originated with the Arctic Security Working Group, Canadian Pugwash – April & May, 2010

Establishment of an Arctic Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone is endorsed by:

Leaders in the Pugwash national groups of the circumpolar

Non Nuclear Weapon States:

- John Scales Avery, Ph.D., Chairman, Danish National Group, Pugwash

Conferences on Science and World Affairs

- Alexa McDonough, O.C., President, Mount St. Vincent University; formerly, Member of Parliament and leader of the NDP, a Canadian political party

- Prof. Walter Dorn, Chair, Canadian Pugwash Group; national affiliate of the

Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

- Jan Prawitz, Senior researcher (Em), Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Stockholm; Member, Swedish Pugwash Group since 1964

- Ulf Svensson and Per Larsson, on behalf of the Swedish Pugwash Group

- Prof. Bent Natvig, Ph.D., Professor University of Oslo, Chairman Norwegian

National Group, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

- Ernie Regehr, O.C., Co-Founder, Project Ploughshares; Director, Canadian


- Stephen Leahey, Founder, Pugwash Peace Exchange


- Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament; President of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

- The Honourable Roméo Dallaire, Senate of Canada

- Alyn Ware, Consultant for the International Association of Lawyers Against

Nuclear Arms

- Richard Denton, MD, President, Physicians for Global Survival (Canada)

JUNE, 2011

This statement originated with the Arctic Security Working Group, Canadian Pugwash – April & May, 2010

Canadian Peace Groups:

- Physicians for Global Survival (Canada)

- Les Artistes pour la Paix

- Science for Peace

- VANA (Veterans Against Nuclear Arms)

- Canadian Voice of Women for Peace

- Lethbridge Network for Peace

- The Boundary Peace Initiative

- Regional Coordinating Committee for BC-Yukon KAIROS network

- Hiroshima Day Coalition

- World Federalist Movement - Canada

Arctic Security Working Group of Canadian Pugwash

- Dr. Adele Buckley, Pugwash Council; past-Chair and Director, Canadian

Pugwash; formerly Vice-President OCETA (Ont.Ctr.Environ.Tech.Adv.)

- Dr. Erika Simpson, Vice-Chair, Canadian Pugwash; Associate Professor

Department of Political Science, University of Western Ontario

- Mr. Steven Staples, Director, Canadian Pugwash; President, The Rideau

Institute on International Affairs;

JUNE, 2011