If conflict erupts again between North and South Korea, Canada could be obligated to join the conflict because the Korean War ended in an armistice, CBC News reports.
Canada contributed troops from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and seconded fighter pilots to the United States Air Force during the 1950-53 war that was officially called a “conflict” or “police action” and waged under the auspices of the United Nations.
Canada remained part of a military force called United Nations Command (UNC), and the UN could expect Canada to fulfill its military obligations if that force is reactivated.
In the event of combat, the United States-South Korea Combined Forces Command would be activated first. Policy documents from 2010 prepared for then-Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay indicate that reinforcements would be deployed from the UNC force structure.
“The UNC structure would be used as a means of force-generating, and receiving and tasking any contributions that UNC sending states may choose to contribute in the event of a crisis,” the document, first obtained and released by The Canadian Press, reveals.
The Department of National Defence has confirmed that these mobilization plans remain in effect.
Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has so far emphasized the government’s preference for a diplomatic solution, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is sounding unusually hawkish.
“We are worried about the dangerous and unstable North Korean regime — period,” Trudeau recently said while touring Canada’s historic D-Day beachhead at Normandy, France.
“This rogue regime in North Korea is a danger not only to the immediate region but the entire world,” Trudeau said.
Reports abound of China putting some air force squadrons stationed along the North Korean border on heightened alert, while South Korea is also demonstrating military preparedness in anticipation of another North Korean missile test this week.
A U.S. carrier group is also heading toward the area.
The lack of a peace treaty between the north and the south means the two nations are technically still at war — if not in direct conflict.
“Diplomacy is the one thing we need to focus on first, because at the end of the day you could be putting soldiers’ lives at risk,” Sajjan said from Mumbai, India, in a conference call with reporters in Ottawa. The minister says he has been in contact with his U.S. counterpart, Defense Secretary James Mattis, to address the potential for renewed conflict in Korea.
Canada has six military personnel currently seconded to the UNC.
Although a military commitment to the UNC is more ambiguous than responsibilities to NATO, Canada’s military appears to be prepared for potential conflict, with Sajjan saying that the Department of National Defence has “done prudent planning” for operational contingencies.