US policy is 'not to defend Canada' in any N Korea attack

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A missile is seen taking off from a grassy field in a burst of burning fuel and smokeImage source, KCNA
Image caption,
North Korea's rocket launch last month was described by Japan as an "unprecedented threat"

A top general has told Canadian MPs they cannot count on US support if North Korea launches a nuclear attack on their country.

Lt Gen Pierre St-Amand told the national defence committee in Ottawa there is no policy that requires the US to aid Canada in any nuclear attack.

But on the upside, the committee also heard North Korea views Canada as a "peaceful" and "friendly" country.

Gen St-Amand told MPs: "The extent of the US policy is not to defend Canada. "That's the fact I can bring to the table."

Canada has long avoided joining the US ballistic missile defence programme, under the assumption that the US would shoot down a nuclear missile heading for its northern neighbour anyway.

But Lt Gen St-Amand's testimony suggested otherwise.

However, Mark Gwozdecky, assistant deputy minister for international security, said all evidence suggested Canada was not in North Korea's crosshairs.

"There's been no direct threat to Canada," Mr Gwozdecky told the meeting.

"In fact, on the contrary, in recent contacts with the North Korean government, including in August when our national security adviser was in Pyongyang, the indications were they perceived Canada as a peaceful and indeed a friendly country."

Mr Gwozdecky stressed that even if Canada was not a target, North Korea still posed a serious threat to global peace and security.