SECRET

Draft

January 14th, 1960

Nuclear Weapons for Canadian Forces

As I stated at the last session, the Government believes in limiting the spread of nuclear weapons at the independent disposal of national governments. We are planning arrangements now for arming the Canadian forces with defensive weapons using nuclear warheads, such as the BOMARC anti-aircraft missile, which will be consistent with this principle. Our need for such weapons will arise only in defensive operations taken jointly with the forces of the United States. Therefore we propose to obtain from the United States the nuclear warheads required, at the time they are needed.

In order to have these warheads available when and where they are needed, we are asking the United States Government to keep them in storage on the bases, in Canada or in Europe, from which the Canadian units are operating. They will remain in U.S. ownership, in accordance with U.S. law, but subject of course to Canadian law while in Canada until such time as they are transferred to the Canadian forces by decisions and orders of the President of the United States and the Government of Canada. If the bases are in third countries, for example in Europe, the concurrence of a third government may also be required.

One question on which there should be no doubt is that the decision to authorize the Canadian forces to use these weapons will be taken by the Canadian Government. This Canadian decision would be put into effect through the commanders of NORAD, SACLANT or SACEUR under whom the Canadian units concerned will be serving.

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In Canada we contemplate arrangements being made to construct the special facilities needed to store these warheads on our bases. In storage the warheads will remain the property of the United States, maintained and safeguarded by the minimum numbers of U.S. personnel required to discharge these duties. These storage and maintenance facilities will be guarded by Canadian forces who will thus be responsible for the external security of the storage site, as well as the base as a whole. Some modification of these arrangements may be necessary at Canadian NATO bases in Europe where it is expected that common NATO storage facilities will be provided.

We hope that before many years have passed there will be a sufficient further relaxation of tensions, and sufficient progress made in disarmament, that it will not be necessary to keep these nuclear weapons on our bases. Until that time they will, when we complete the arrangements with the United States, strengthen our joint defences against aggression.


John Diefenbaker talking to fighter pilots at Canadian Forces base, Soest, Germany
John Diefenbaker speaking with fighter pilots

Media and Document Gallery

Images

John Diefenbaker with John F. Kennedy
John Diefenbaker, Dwight Eisenhower, and their aides at table
John Diefenbaker with George Pearkes and General Lauris Norstad
John Diefenbaker speaking with fighter pilots

Audio

Speech by John Diefenbaker to the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Association, Halifax

Creator: Progressive Conservative Party of Canada

Subject: Canada – Leader of the Official Opposition | Canada – Nuclear Weapons

Description: John Diefenbaker chastises the Liberal Party of Canada for what he claims was their unfounded criticism that his Government had made a commitment to United States to acquire nuclear weapons

Date Created: 16 November1963

Identifier:MG01/XVIII/T200-PAC150a

Speech by John Diefenbaker at a meeting of the Canadian Club, Ottawa Creator: Progressive Conservative Party of Canada

Creator: Progressive Conservative Party of Canada

Subject: Canada – Head of Government | Canada – Nuclear Weapons

Description: John Diefenbaker addresses the threat of nuclear war, indicating that Canada will not consider the use of nuclear weapons unless it has full joint control of the weapons

Date Created: 24 November1960

Identifier:MG01/XVIII/T213-PAC57a

Speech by John Diefenbaker at the 46th Annual Kiwanis International Convention, Toronto

Creator: Progressive Conservative Party of Canada

Subject: Canada – Head of Government | Canada – National Defence

Description: John Diefenbaker advocates for a strong defence for Canada, brushing aside the wishes of those who want Canada to remove itself from defence commitments and embrace neutrality

Date Created: 3 July1961

Identifier:MG01/XVIII/T209a-c-PAC54

Documents

Letter from from F.E. Boaten, General Secretary, Accra Assembly, Ghana, to John Diefenbaker

Creator: F.E. Boaten

Subject: Canada – Head of Government | Ghana – Personalities | Canada – Nuclear Weapons

Description: Boaten introduces the Accra Assembly, an organization of non-aligned, non-governmental organizations that seeks world peace and requests financial support for the organization

Date Created: 18 December1962

Identifier:MG01/XII/F/342 Volume 104 (080859 – 080861)

Letter from the Defence Liaison Commission to H.B. Robinson

Creator: Defence Liaison Commission

Subject: Canada – Head of Government | Canada – Cabinet Ministers | Canada – Nuclear Weapons

Description: Covering letter and enclosed document entitled “Chronology of Government Statements Regarding Negotiations on Acquisition and Storage of Nuclear Weapons

Date Created: 4 November1960

Identifier:MG01/XII/B/236 Volume 37 (025648 – 025668)

Draft Statement Regarding the Acquisition and Control of Nuclear Weapons for Possible use in the House of Commons

Creator: Unknown

Subject: Canada – Head of Government | Canada – National Defence | Canada – Nuclear Weapons

Description: Presents material to be used by Government officials when answering questions in the House of Commons regarding acquisition and control of nuclear weapons

Date Created: 16 February1959

Identifier:MG01/XII/F/100 Volume 104 (071558 – 071561)

Memorandum for the Prime Minister: Re: Nuclear weapons; Policy Statement

Creator: R.B. Bryce

Subject: Canada – Head of Government | Canada – National Defence | Canada – Nuclear Weapons

Description: Bryce, Clerk of the Privy Council, advises Diefenbaker on tactics for formal policy on nuclear issues, urging him to make the issues public to clear up rumors, and to bring the issue to a House of Commons debate

Date Created: 8 February1961

Identifier:MG01/XII/F/100 Volume 104 (071585 – 071587)

Nuclear Weapons for Canadian Forces

Creator: Unknown

Subject: Canada – Head of Government | Canada – National Defence | Canada – Nuclear Weapons

Description: Draft statement prepared for Diefenbaker regarding nuclear weapons for Canadian forces, in which Diefenbaker declares that the Government desired to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, yet was considering storing such weapons on Canadian bases

Date Created: 14 January1960

Identifier:MG01/XII/F/100 Volume 104 (071575 – 071576)

Telegram to the Prime Minister

Creator: Charles Ritchie

Subject: Canada – Head of Government | Canada – Cabinet Ministers | Canada – Nuclear Weapons

Description: Briefing for Prime Minister on forthcoming US State Department press announcement regarding negotiations on Canadian acquisition of nuclear weapons

Date Created: 31 January1960

Identifier:MG01/XII/D/151 Volume 86 (060563 – 060564)