Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 23, 2009
Nuclear subs' collision alarms disarmament activists
BY DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — The collision of two nuclear submarines armed with nuclear weapons earlier this month has alarmed Canadian disarmament advocates.
Retired Senator Douglas Roche, who served as Canadian disarmament ambassador, said in an interview Feb. 17 the fact that the deep-sea collision of a French and a British submarine was downplayed was “irresponsibility at its height.”
The collision took place in the Atlantic at low speed, authorities said. Sonar systems which detect objects under water and mask the presence of the sub have been blamed.
The French sub Le Triomphant, reportedly carrying 15 nuclear missiles suffered damage to the dome containing its navigation and detection equipment; the British HMS Vanguard, carrying 16 nuclear missiles, returned to its Scotland base with dents and scrapes, according to the BBC.
“It shows us how dangerous the world is,” Roche said. “It’s irresponsible to be downplaying the potential tragedy that would happen in the event of nuclear weapons going off in any location.”
Project Ploughshares founder and policy advisor Ernie Regehr said he could not comment on the technicalities, but said the collision highlights the inappropriateness of having nuclear weapons systems “on the go, all primed for quick firing.”
“The presence of nuclear weapons makes the world less safe than more safe,” he said.
Roche compared the incident to the 2007 B-52 flight across the United States that had been armed with nuclear warheads without the pilot’s knowledge.
“It certainly brings to the forefront the need to escalate the move that is now underway that President Obama has opened up when he says he wants a nuclear free world to be the centrepiece of his policy.”
Regehr pointed out that even such former cold warriors as Henry Kissinger and Mikhail Gorbachev are calling for ridding the world of nuclear weapons.