NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will spend Thursday touring military installations in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, with Justin Trudeau.
Arriving in Canada on Wednesday evening, less than a day after the end of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Canada visit, Mr. Stoltenberg is specifically required to inspect the Northern Warning System, which is designed to detect trans-Arctic threats from Russia.
“The shortest route to North America for Russian missiles or bombers would be through the North Pole. NORAD’s role is therefore vital to North America and NATO,” the Secretary-General said in an op-ed published in Globe & Mail on Wednesday.
NORAD, or North American Aerospace Defense Command, is the most important milestone in the defense of the North American continent.
However, the technology currently in use is considered obsolete due to its inability to detect new threats, particularly state-of-the-art cruise missiles. The Trudeau administration earlier this year announced a historic nearly $5 billion modernization plan to address the problem.
“Much of the Far North (Arctic territory and waters) has traditionally been an area of low stress. Unfortunately, this situation is changing due to rapid global warming and increasing global competition. More and more parts of the Arctic will be ice-free in summer.
This situation opens up opportunities for shipping routes, natural resources and economic development. But it also increases the risk of tension.
Authoritarian regimes are clearly willing to use intimidation or military aggression to achieve their goals. At the same time, they are increasing their activities and interest in the Arctic,” Stoltenberg also wrote.
Ministers Mélanie Joly of Global Affairs, Anita Anand of Defense and Daniel Vandal of Northern Affairs accompanied MM Trudeau and Stoltenberg to Cambridge Bay.
A visit and press conference are planned for Friday at the Cold Lake military base in northern Alberta.
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