Canada has opposed missile defense systems for decades, fearing that their development would encourage weapons proliferation and lead to the placement of weapons in space. On May 29, however, Canadian officials announced that Canada would enter into negotiations with the United States on whether and how Canada might participate in the developing U.S. strategic missile defense system.
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Defense Minister John McCallum offered several reasons to support Canada's newfound interest in the U.S. missile defense system.
Canada seeks to preserve its role in the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Established in 1958, NORAD uses data from satellites and ground-based radar to monitor North American airspace and warn of attacks by incoming aircraft or missiles. Noting this history, McCallum stated that "NORAD represents the logical place in which to lodge ballistic missile defence."
Canada also views its potential involvement in missile defense as a means of limiting future U.S. defense initiatives. Canada strongly opposes the deployment of space-based weapons, and the Pentagon wants to put three to five armed satellites in orbit as early as 2008 to start testing a space-based missile defense system. Canadian officials have suggested that participation in the …