T163. Russian Military in the Arctic

 

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Project Save the World Podcast / Talk Show Episode Number: 163
Panelists: Ernie Regehr
Host: Metta Spencer

Date aired: 18 January 2021
Date Transcribed: February 2021
Transcription: Otter.ai
Transcription Review and Edits: Diana Hdalevich

Metta Spencer 

Hi, I’m Metta Spencer. Now, have you been paying enough attention to the Arctic? Most of us haven’t. And this is time for us to pay some attention to the Arctic. So today we’re going to do that we’re going to listen to Ernie Regehr. I’m going to have a conversation with Ernie Regehr, who does know a thing or two about the Arctic. He is the former or was the founder, co-founder of Project Ploughshares, which is a very wonderful organization that studies peace research in Canada. And he’s a senior fellow at the Simons Foundation. And he knows a thing or two about the Arctic and I think we should pay some attention. So good morning, Ernie.

Ernie Regehr  

Good morning to you.

Metta Spencer 

Yeah, okay. I think you have recently published an article in a book about, is it about Russia in the Arctic? Or what’s your – I have to admit, I haven’t read it yet.

Ernie Regehr 

It’s about the Russian military presence in the Arctic. And so, it tries to be descriptive about that presence, which is a growing presence. And then also some of the strategic implications of that. Of that, that presence. So that’s where we are the – as you know, there’s, in some circles, there’s quite a lot of growing concern about American or Russian militarization of the Arctic. But it’s subject to varieties of interpretations. There is a kind of consensus about where it’s going, I can talk a bit about that.

Metta Spencer 

Everybody knows that it’s – they’re building it up, right?

Ernie Regehr 

Yeah.

Metta Spencer 

You know, I, I somehow give them more rights, than maybe other people would, since they have people there., you know? I mean, they have big cities in the Arctic, and we have just little bitty clusters of people compared to them. And somehow that, to my mind, it makes it more… I don’t know, is that reasonable or not?

Ernie Regehr 

It’s very reasonable. I mean, it’s by far the largest Arctic state, it has, by far the longest frontier in the Arctic. So, part of the – part of the point of its military buildup, which is by the way, is a string of – there are two kinds of military buildup one is the conventional and then the other is the nuclear and the nuclear has always been there through the Cold War on the Kola Peninsula, and it remains a prominent presence and it’s part of Arctic nuclear modernization similar to that, but the Americans and the Chinese are doing. So that’s one part of it. The other part of it is just that string of conventional military facilities that go all the way from the Pacific to the Kola Peninsula,

Metta Spencer 

Okay, now I knew that they have nuclear submarines up at in the Kola Peninsula that’s around Murmansk, right?

Ernie Regehr 

That’s right. Yeah, Murmansk is on the Kola Peninsula,

Metta Spencer 

And they have a fleet of nuclear submarines and things there. Now, but you’re – what you’ve alluded to it sounds like it’s more than marine facilities, but maybe nuclear weapons – are there nuclear weapons there or not?

Ernie Regehr 

Well, the North – it’s the maritime nuclear leg of the Triad that’s based there. So, there’s a nuclear base on the Kola Peninsula, a wide number of nuclear bases on the Kola Peninsula, and then also there are nuclear submarines on the Pacific in the Kamchatka Peninsula, but the Kola, the Kola one is – there’s a major base that houses all of the long range submarines with long – with intercontinental ballistic missiles, SSBNs in other words are based in – on the Kola Peninsula, there are seven, seven of those submarines there. And one is of the newest variety. And the others are an older Delta four version of SSBN but they’re on the Kola Peninsula, and they patrol in the Barents Sea area primarily, but there are also and then there are nuclear weapons storage facilities in that area, as well as attack submarines and air bases as well,

Metta Spencer 

what now? Do they ever get out and go into the Arctic Ocean? Or do they- Do they go into the Atlantic? And do they patrol the rest of the world? Do they slip around looking for things?

Ernie Regehr 

Well, I think that the – we can come back to the conventional because it’s an important thing to talk about. So, let’s not lose sight of that. But on the – on this, this nuclear issue, they primarily patrol in what they regard as an Arctic Bastion, and that’s in the barren Sea area. And they patrol on that area, but then they patrol it also into the Norwegian Sea and down into the Greenland Iceland UK gap, you know, and, so they can but that’s a – they have to go through there. And they run they run into NATO patrols there. But yeah, they have access to the Atlantic Ocean, certainly there and they have access to the Pacific Ocean through the Bering Strait. But the primary patrols as understood now are in the Barents Sea. And one of the reasons that they’re building up there, their conventional military capacity is to patrol there, their Bastion to protect their – those SSBNs that are patrolling in the Bering Sea to protect them from American and NATO, anti-submarine warfare activity.

Metta Spencer 

Do people know where they are? I mean, if they’re out, you know, probably around. I use pejorative things as if you know, everything they do is surreptitious, but actually, maybe they have every right to go hunting around. Can other countries find them easily? Or is this part of the – the whole strategy is to make them invisible,

Ernie Regehr 

it’s part of the whole strategy to make them visible and other countries, meaning the United States really can find them and is increasingly interested in developing anti-submarine warfare capacity in the Bering Sea, the US Navy just put out an Arctic strategy document just this past week in which they – it talks about additional patrols in the Bering Sea. Now that I mean, I regard that as a very destabilizing development. I mean, the whole point of having a bastion in the Bering Sea for these SSBN patrol is in support of deterrence and an assured second-strike and for the US to increasingly and aggressively patrol with anti-submarine warfare activity. That puts those submarines in peril and in worries about a first strike, preemptive strike. So, one of the arms control proposals that is out there is that both Russia in the Arctic, and the United States in its own Atlantic and Pacific areas close to its borders should have areas in which are free of anti-submarine warfare activity, in other words, bastions for the SSBN to patrol because as long as there – as long as there is a deterrent system, you want that deterrent system to have an assured second strike and not be in danger of being attacked and a preemptive strike. And so one of the proposals for the Arctic is to leave it be from the point of view of the SSBN. Don’t go looking for them, because that’s destabilizing.

Metta Spencer 

That’s, you know, kind of paradoxical, but of course, it makes sense. When you think about it, it wouldn’t occur to me that you know, we peaceful people ought to be out there defending the second strike. Yeah,

Ernie Regehr 

well, we – the – what I would say what we’re doing is not defending the right to retaliate with nuclear weapons. What we’re, what we’re doing is saying you – is preventing preemptive strikes.

Metta Spencer 

Yeah, I can understand the reasoning. It makes sense, but it wouldn’t actually – probably wouldn’t have occurred to me because that was

Ernie Regehr 

one of the most dangerous things if, if the United States and Russia, for example, we’re in a very, very major political crisis point, if you have active anti-submarine warfare, then you have both sides thinking, well, it’s my, to my advantage to use this thing before – to use these weapons before I lose them. And so, if you have, if you have active anti-submarine patrols, you’re creating incentives to go first. And then, the last.

Metta Spencer 

So, I guess the same logic would mean, you want them to be invisible if possible.

Ernie Regehr 

That’s exactly – that’s exactly right. That’s why the Russians have a bastion, which we should – which the West should honour. And then that’s a stabilizing thing. And then, you work through New START and other provisions to whittle away and, and reduce those Arsenal’s until we get to the point of elimination. In the meantime,

Metta Spencer 

I wasn’t aware that New START covered that,

Ernie Regehr 

It covers all strategic range nuclear weapons. So that includes those, those seven submarines that are in the – that Russia has in – each with 16 missiles and multiple warheads. So that’s a – there’s a big chunk of the Russian arsenal is there.

Metta Spencer 

Well, have they – has the New START? I mean, it’s been in effect since Obama, and what’s his face? That … did it? And has it actually reduced any of these maritime weapons?

Ernie Regehr 

Well, and yes, it has indeed, I mean, it as you know, reduces the total, the total deployable Arsenal to 1550 warheads, and each side can decide which vehicles that whether it wants most of them put on submarines, or most of them on land-based missiles and so forth. But it’s so – it restricts them so – So since New START, these submarines have never carried the maximum number of nuclear warheads that they could, because they’re, in order to keep them under the New START limits.

Metta Spencer 

We know which particular missiles have been removed.

Ernie Regehr 

Yeah, there are verification provisions within the New START, and the details of which I’m not an expert on. And I don’t know

Metta Spencer 

Why now, if – if the thing gets renewed as no doubt Biden will do, well, I shouldn’t say no doubt that it seems that they will. Is it – will it be further – How many more will be taken out? Is that part? I know that there’s – it’s just a matter of renewing, but does that – do they have a quota fixed number that they already plan to, to do with the next stage or what?

Ernie Regehr 

No, so that the renewal will simply keep in place, the 1550 warhead maximum, and in many ways, more importantly, the verification provisions within the – in the treaty that will keep that all in place. And then the Biden administration to be has indicated that then it is committed, then to begin negotiations towards the follow-on treaty. And whether the New START is renewed for a full five years, which it can be done by just presidential decree. That’s probably the wise move. And then – and then they have that time in order to negotiate a new one and possibly involve China in it, which is what the Trump administration was.

Metta Spencer 

You think that’s realistic? I mean, I knew that Trump was demanding that but I thought he was just playing, you know, fiddling around trying to disguise the fact that he wasn’t going to participate.

Ernie Regehr 

No, no, I mean, I – at this point, it was a way of making sure that it wouldn’t get extended If required, but in the long run, China, of course, has to be drawn in, as do all of the nuclear power. So, whether that’s in the next round, or after that, I don’t know but the – but renewing it or extending it will allow for negotiations towards a follow on trading.

Metta Spencer 

Okay, I jumped right in and started asking irrelevant questions before you had a chance to say the basic things about where things are,

Ernie Regehr 

where all of the military bases that are – that the conventional military bases that are -that run about 20 of them from the Pacific Coast, right up near Bering Strait. And to all the way to Murmansk. And those, I’ll just talk about those a little bit, if you don’t mind, those are all in the process of being refurbished. And the – I mean, the primary interest in refurbishing them is one – is new issues related to sovereignty, the Arctic for all of the, the northern state has been just becoming a much more accessible place. And so, Russia has a very, very long frontier, and so needs much more the surveillance and situational awareness activity in order to monitor that frontier. So, they have, they have those facilities. And then – and you mentioned right off the top, they have major resources. And I mean, it’s a – it’s a significant part of their GDP about 20-25%. And, the population as well. So, there are there – It has vital interest in that area that it seeks to, to defend, as, and also, it’s the, it’s the northern sea route. That is the one that is opening up that you get from China wants to wants to ship to, to Western Europe, for example, if it goes up through the Bering Sea through the northern sea route along the Russian coast, and then down to UK and Western Europe, it takes about 10-11 sailing days off the trip, rather than going around Suez Canal. So, there’s a very, very keen interest in, in opening up that, that northern sea road which Russia is doing with some Chinese investments, as well. So that’s another part of it and there – and so that they the – Russia is developing a radar coverage, and air defense coverage for that whole – that whole part of the Arctic along its coast. And then – and then the more traffic that there is, the more need there is for search and rescue and emergency response capability. So, of those – of those 20 bases that are strung along from the Pacific to Murmansk, 10 of those, or nine of those actually are designated as emergency response centers. So, they have a – there’s a – there’s a major capacity for a search and rescue that is needed and required. And that really applies to all Arctic states that, that for all of them, their coastal regions, including Canada, are becoming increasingly accessible, and there’s more traffic in them. And so that the requirements for search and rescue are greater. And, and that means there’s much more of the military activity in the north now is an aid to civil authorities, civil authorities, civilian institutions, and agencies have basic responsibility for managing waterways and search and rescue and those kinds of things. And so – but it’s the military that has the capacity to do that. And that’s, that’s a big part of their, their operation. That’s a big part of the Russian military operation is aid to civil authorities as

Metta Spencer 

well as – that’s a good reason. Yeah, the thing about it, you know, compared to Canada, and other states, the US, of course, has, has some, you know, Alaska and so on. What about other countries in ratio? I mean, what you say the Russian is building way up, are other countries building at the same rate, increasing military and, search and rescue and icebreakers and things like that. Are they getting into it?

Ernie Regehr 

Now, I would say Norway, like Norway is the most active because it’s, it’s right on the border. And, and Russia has significant artillery bases, infantry bases, rather, in -within tens of kilometers from the border with Norway and the border with Finland. So, there are concerns there and NATO has stepped up its presence in response to that and Norway has a bigger maritime presence as well, because it’s right in the zone with Russia. Canada is – has the same requirements for increased attention to search and rescue, air defense and so forth. Most of that is civilian activity. And there – and the expansion isn’t nearly anywhere close to the rate of the Russian expansion. There’s a new naval facility for basically – for refueling at Nanisivik on – in the Canadian north. Baffin Island. And in that – and the – I think I’ve got that right. And then I guess the big Canadian issue is the North warning system, you know, what we used to know as the DEW line all of the radars across the north. And there is a feeling that with increased activity in the, in the north, and particularly around the part of Russia, North America’s own air defense capability needs to be enhanced, and particularly domain awareness, they have the radar facilities to be able to detect everything that comes within range of Canadian territory. Right now, those radars are all running along the Arctic Ocean just above the Arctic Circle, but they don’t cover the northern part of the Canadian archipelago then the Arctic, our archipelago. So that’s a thing that’s in the works for Canada. It’s nothing concrete yet. But there’s a lot of discussion in military circles about what, what the way in which that North warning system is going to be.

Metta Spencer 

You know, I hadn’t even heard about the North warning system or the DEW line for 20 years. And I guess I thought I would – if you’d asked me, I would have guessed that maybe with satellites that that’s, you know, a passe thing, you know, not needed anymore. But are you saying that that is really an essential part of?

Ernie Regehr 

If you want to be able to identify and every state should be able to identify aircraft that are coming into its airspace, you need to have radar, satellites don’t help you with that, because they’re not, they’re not the same kind of continuous coverage. So, you need -you need to have radar in order to do that, and the more that you have low flying and, and hyper speed, aerial, and missiles, and then it gets much more complicated, but you need to have a coastal radar capacity, which Canada has on the east and west coast, we have coastal radars. And so that’s a big thing that NORAD does is monitor the air traffic, which is all civilian coming in into Canada, but we don’t have that capacity for all of Canadian territory in the north. So, there are renewal or modernization requirements there, which is going to be expensive, and a longer-term thing, but they’re in the exploration stage

Metta Spencer 

We have to have people actually manning these.

Ernie Regehr 

No, I don’t think so. The North warning systems no are not staffed. They’re – so the connection is the communication links to them, but not – they don’t need to have people on base constantly, and they have to visit there presumably on a regular basis. But

Metta Spencer 

well, you know, I guess the only reason for needing a lot of military presence is if you don’t trust somebody who’s your neighbor, or and – I – and so that the question, I guess is, how are folks getting along up there? I was, you know, at 20 – 10, 15 years ago, all the peace workers I knew who knew anything about the Arctic, were reassuring us that it’s one of those places on the planet where people seem to be friendly toward each other at least cooperative, and there wasn’t any real dispute happening. So, cool it, don’t worry. But I don’t hear that kind of reassurance very often. Tell me what is the real situation? Who’s our friend and who – do we have any enemies

Ernie Regehr 

Well, the – I think one of the extraordinary things about the Arctic is that it has been a zone of unusual cooperation. And there’s a whole – there’s a range of international agreements and, and international political commitments to continue that cooperation and that, for example, the identification of control over the continental shelf is all – it’s all – there’s a, there’s a law-based process by which that takes place. So, I think the broader consensus in mainstream conventional and Western circles, including military circles is that the Arctic is not an area of imminent threat. There’s not an expectation of Arctic induced combat in the, in the Arctic, no one – it’s not in anybody’s interest to do that. There are some fears about spillover from conflict and other regions into the, into the Arctic, I mean, in as much as there is major military presence there. If you – if the NATO and Russia were to come into active conflict in Europe, God forbid, the likelihood of that spilling over into the Arctic is fairly strong. But the likelihood of Arctic conflict rising, escalating to a crisis, in which military combat seems a possibility, that I think is universally regarded as very, very low. But there is increasing military activity there. And there has, and there have. So, there are also increasing calls for there to be dialogue – military to – military dialogue between Russia and the NATO states, in the Arctic. And particularly, that there should be broader strategic dialogue between NATO, North America and Russia, on coming to common understandings that what are the requirements for strategic stability in the Arctic for a, for a rule of law operations, tactical and day to day operations in the Arctic, so the requirement for dialogue and that kind of diplomatic engagement is – gets – becomes much more important, and the isolation of Russia from these forums, as has happened since 2014, in the Crimea, that we need to get over that, and understand that we need to be in constant dialogue with them. And that’s not a means of, of turning a blind eye to violations of another state sovereignty. But it’s a means – it’s for the purpose of trying to maintain stability in a region, which if it goes bad, is bad for the whole globe.

Metta Spencer 

Okay, I’m just trying to think of all the states that are in the Arctic, how – are all of them either members of NATO or Russia?

Ernie Regehr 

There is – so that they’re – understood, there are eight Arctic states and eight states in the Arctic Council. There’s Russia. And then there are five NATO members, US, Canada, Greenland, Denmark, Iceland, and Norway, and then Sweden and Finland, which are our partners, or NATO partner states, essentially. So, it’s a fairly one-sided thing, but Arctic – but Russia is not a minority in the sense of vast land and sea areas, and resources and populations. You know,

Metta Spencer 

what would you say that the, the Russian military is equivalent to the combined militaries of all these other states, the NATO states plus Finland and, and Sweden did you say?

Ernie Regehr 

Yeah, well, it’s, it’s superior to all of those combined with actual facilities in the Arctic. But of course, it’s much inferior to NATO collectively, right. And the United – you know, the United States has very, very little military presence in the Arctic except for submarine patrols. That’s its main presence there – whereas – and has one operating icebreaker, whereas, you know, Russia, as we know has 40 to 50, operating,

Metta Spencer 

How many does Canada have?

Ernie Regehr 

I think it’s six, a half a dozen, it doesn’t have a – especially of middle range, icebreakers. So, these are coastal icebreaking. Russia is acquiring new generations of nuclear-powered icebreakers. They already have some of those, but they’re, they’re building icebreakers that will go through up to four meters of ice. So that’s a big, big, big ship. And, and, you know, the concern is that, that it can create pathways for not only for liquid natural gas tankers, but also for, for military vessels using – Is there any part of the Arctic Ocean that they – that no icebreaker could penetrate? Well, and right now, the – in – I’m not sure in that in the dead of winter, but there have been, but there have been voyages directly through the central Arctic Ocean, through the thickest part of the ice.

Metta Spencer 

So, the ice there, you’d say about four meters at the worst. And so, somebody, somebody can go there if they want to. Okay. Now, you mentioned the connection between Russia and China. And I know they have some sort of strange friendship nowadays. But how friendly are they? That is, I understand that China would like to have a presence in the Arctic in some form, and is always claiming new ways of establishing a presence there, but with not – for example, a gold mine, I think recently, that was one of the things

Ernie Regehr 

they wanted to buy it from a Canadian one

Metta Spencer 

But would Russia support China’s requests to be part of the Arctic? I don’t know whether they want to join the Arctic Council, or I guess they couldn’t, but what and how are they trying to get their toehold there? And does Russia play along with that?

Ernie Regehr 

Well, I – the Chinese, I think it’s correct to say, do not really have a keen interest in a military presence. I mean, some people fear an Arctic military presence by China. But China wants a shipping route through the Arctic. And obviously, and it certainly wants access to rare earth minerals in Greenland and Canada and so forth. I mean, it has mining interests. It has a lot of commercial interests that it sees potential value in the Arctic, but a big part of it is the shipping route. And China’s certainly helping Russia and building an infrastructure for a shipping route through its Arctic so that there’s cooperate cooperation there. There’s no question.

Metta Spencer 

Well, if we open or if we, as if you and I personally will open the Arctic, but if somebody opens the Arctic shipping, I would assume that it would be international that any anybody with a rowboat who wants to go there can do it? It wouldn’t be specifically China’s shipping route, it would be international, right?

Ernie Regehr 

Yeah, absolutely. And it runs in the northern sea route, runs entirely through the exclusive economic zone of Russia, not through Russia and territorial waters, in some parts of it do, depending on the ice conditions. But all it’s within the exclusive economic zone. So that gives Russia some obligations in order to do environmental controls and those kind of kind of things that have to happen in a shipping.

Metta Spencer 

What an economic zone is

Ernie Regehr 

Well the – so that the – I’m the wrong person to explain this. I’m not an international law expert, but essentially, along the coastline there, there’s – 12 miles out are territorial waters. And that’s the exclusive zoning the same as the land, it’s – you have sovereignty over that area, and then 200 miles out, is you have exclusive economic rights within that, within that zone. But these are international waters. And everybody has the right to travel them. The Americans charge and I’m and I think the Russians give them reason to that, that Russia is really claiming it’s those exclusive economic zone waters as being Russian waters and aiming to manage them as if they were territorial sovereign waters of Russia, and requiring other states to get permission, so forth. So, the United States in this new naval document is talking increasingly about doing freedom of navigation missions through there just to establish, establish the fact that these are international waters that everybody has a right to,

Metta Spencer 

Okay. Also been a few years ago anyway, and I don’t know whether it’s settled, there was a, there was a dispute based on where the shelf of the, of the continent ends or drops off or something like that, that the water rights and the claims to certain parts of the ocean would be settled on the basis of where – I guess there’s a drop off

Ernie Regehr 

Yeah, Law of the Sea that is now being all of the Arctic states are putting in proposals to define their, their continental shelf where it goes in and goes beyond it can go beyond the exclusive economic zone. And that gives you right to the resources on the ocean floor. Exclusive. Right, I see the resources on the open of ocean floor. And so, in the North Pole area that means both, I mean, Russia has laid claims on that, as has Greenland as has Canada, I think that’s it. But these are so – but it’s understood that these disputes will be settled by scientists, not by soldiers. Depends on science, collecting scientific data on where the, where the continental shelf…

Metta Spencer 

and that still has to be determined.

Ernie Regehr 

Yeah, all their claim claims are in and that will take a long time, under the Law of the Sea for that all to be to be settled. No one has immediate access to that area, in a way.

Metta Spencer 

And so, there’s stuff down there that people might want to drill for or what. I hope you’re not gonna put oil wells and stuff there.

Ernie Regehr 

That’s exactly right. But I – it’s so – it’s not sure, I mean, I don’t, I just don’t know enough about it to know what all kinds of potential resources are. But that, that’s in the process of being settled. And there was the – something called the Ilulissat declaration 2008. In Ilulissat, town in Greenland, where all of the Arctic states met, and committed themselves to settling Arctic disputes according to existing international law, which is Law of the Sea. And that was a, that was an important, important declaration in principle that reinforced the Arctic as an arena of cooperation, rather than competition leading to – come to conflict. And in 2018, that Declaration was again, was renewed. And so that’s part of the – and in the – in for the International Arctic Ocean. There has been an all-Arctic agreement to prohibit any fishing that becomes available in the central Arctic Ocean until such time that there have been scientific studies done to assess the nature of the fish stocks and how much fishing can be, can be controlled. And that’s an agreement of all of the Arctic states, including, but non-Arctic states as well, including Japan and, and China. Well, that’s just another, that’s another example of the cooperative milieu of the Arctic.

Metta Spencer 

Yeah. Well now tell me about Novaya Zemlya. Right. That’s, that’s where they tested nuclear weapons. I don’t know what else they did up there. But doesn’t sound like a place anybody would want to live. What, what – Is there still military activity going on up there? And tell me about it?

Ernie Regehr 

Yeah, there is a new, there’s a new base being developed there now. And it. It’s interesting because it’s one of those trefoil bases, one of these that you may have seen pictures in the newspapers of this three-pronged base of big military facilities that can house several hundred Russian troops throughout the year. And it’s in – they’re quite grand facilities that have everything from a chapel to gymnasiums to all of this. And so there, there are station troops there, as well as radar facilities and, and air defense facilities are out of there

Metta Spencer 

Is the place contaminated? I worry, you know, you hear about things like places where they have – where there are sunken submarines with, you know, a lot of radioactive material that nobody knows how to get at anymore. Is the Arctic in general, a, a safe environment? Or are there radioactive contaminants floating around up there?

Ernie Regehr 

Yeah, well, I think that there is. I mean, there’s been a lot of cleanup that was done through this international partnership agreement that Canada was part of, and there’s still major legacy from the cold war and nuclear weapons development by that. I mean, that’s, that’s about as much detail as I’m…

Metta Spencer 

They haven’t been testing any weapons, or at least nuclear explosives there for what, 20-30 years. How long? I don’t know.

Ernie Regehr 

I know, I don’t know for how long but for a long time, yeah. I – there’s a de facto moratorium, but when it began, I’m not recalling right now.

Metta Spencer 

But now I know that people in Kazakhstan talk about the pollution still remaining around Semipalatinsk. So, I wondered if maybe the same thing was true around – as some – I don’t know.

Ernie Regehr 

Yeah. Yeah. No, I’m sure I’m sure it is.

Metta Spencer 

I wouldn’t volunteer to serve up there if I were you. Okay, all this is fascinating. Any advice to the world? Can – what would – if you were in charge of trying to make steps toward nuclear disarmament and toward really, an end to any hostilities, and you were responsible for the Arctic, what kinds of new decrees would you issue?

Ernie Regehr 

Well, I would simply emphasize the principle of the Ilulissat declaration and so that declaration is important and emphasize that the – this – the – all of the intention towards – attention towards on the resumption of great power competition so far, though, I mean, I think we have to make a very conscious effort to keep the Arctic out of that. And recognize that – I mean inevitably it’s part of it because it’s a major part of the Russian nuclear arsenal is there but we need to stabilize that and prevent destabilizing anti-submarine warfare patrols in the Arctic and make sure that the Arctic does not kind of become a climate, which negatively impinges upon the pursuit of nuclear arms control and elsewhere

Metta Spencer 

and protect Santa Claus ourselves.

Ernie Regehr 

That would be a priority, of course.

Thank you.

Ernie Regehr 

NORAD is on that so we’re fine.

Metta Spencer 

Okay, this has been fun. Thank you so much.

Ernie Regehr:

Pleasure. Take care.