Friday, June 24, 2022

Canada to seek information on drones and UAP from the USA

 "Five Eyes"

The "Five Eyes" is the name of a multi-state agreement to share information gained from signals intelligence. The "Five Eyes" countries are Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The alliance can be traced back to the era of World War 2. It started with sharing between the UK and USA in 1941; Canada joined in 1948; and Australia and New Zealand in 1956.

The United States FY2022 Defense Authorization Act contained a provision for the establishment of an office within the US Department of Defense, to study Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP.) The Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG) came into being for this purpose.

One of the mandates for the new office was:

"Coordination with allies and partners of the United States, as appropriate, to better understand the nature and extent of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena."


My recent blog post about Canada and UAP discussed a UAP briefing, provided to the then Canadian Minister of Defence, and the interest shown by Conservative Member of Parliament Larry Maguire, on the topic of UAP. I wondered if the AOIMSG  had been in contact with the Canadian Government when I read the following?

On 2 March 2022, National Resources Canada (NRC) appeared before a meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Resources on the Supplementary Estimates. MP Larry Maguire asked a question on incident reporting of drone and UAP, in or near Canadian nuclear facilities.

NRC responded on 14 March 2022 to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources. This response was signed off by the Director General, Directorate of Security and Safeguards. The response was that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC,) Canada's independent nuclear regulator, had advised "...there has been no reported drone intrusion or attempted intrusion at Canadian high-security nuclear facilities."

Further correspondence

Two letters, dated 6 June 2022 are relevant to this matter. These are:

1. John Hannaford, Deputy Minister of Natural resources Canada, wrote to MP Maguire.

"I am writing in follow-up to my May 18, 2022, appearnce before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources, where you raised security-related questions regarding the Government of Canada's position on drones and Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs) near North American nuclear facilities.

This is an important matter that my colleagues and I in the Natural Resources portfolio take very seriously. I would like to share with you some specific steps we have taken recently.

Beyond regular collaboration, in recent weeks the Department has liaised with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Transport Canada and Public Safety Canada on this issue. Natural Resources Canada and the CNSC are working to support Transport Canada in developing a strategy to address emerging drone security issues.

To date, there have been no reported or attempted drone incursions at Canadian  high-security nuclear facilities. However, a request was made to fly a drone over a nuclear facility in early 2021, which the CSNC declined. 

Given the shared priority for nuclear safety and safety of nuclear facilities, and the growing interest in UAPs in both Canada and the United States, the CSNC is committed to raising the issue with its United States counterpart, and sharing any related information going forward.

We have reached out to counterparts in the United States Department of Energy regarding the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's Preliminary Report on UAPs to learn more about its perspective in order to help inform analysis and action in Canada.

Finally, Natural Resources Canada has a long-established Energy and Utilities Sector Network that shares threat information  between the Government of Cnada and energy sector critical infrastructure operators. We will continue to use this to gather intelligence on emerging threats, including drones and UAPs.

Kathleen Heppell-Masys, Director General of the CSNC, will respond in a follow-up letter to the six specific questions you asked during my May appearance.

Thank you for your interest in this important safery and security issue."

2. Dr Kathleen Heppell-Masys, Director General, Directorate of Security and Safeguards, Canada Nuclear Safety Commission to Larry Maguire.

"It was a pleasure to meet with you on May 17th, 2022. The information you provided in your March 4th letter helped us further understand the context and nature of your interests, concerns, and questions regarding drones and unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) and I understand you raised a number of related issues the following day during a meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources (RNNR.)

Before I turn to addressing your questions, I would like to clarify that the CNSC is Canada's independent nuclear regulator. The CSNC is a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal that reports in Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources, and  not to the Minister. As such, we will be able to to address your concerns and questions more expeditiously in the future if you contact us directly. As an open and transparent regulator, we welome the opportunity to work with Parliamentarians to ensure their information needs are met.

As we discuseed on May 17th, the CSNC's nuclear security requirements, including reporting requirements, encompass any nuclear security threats that involve an attempted or actual breach of security, or an atrempted or actual act of sabotage, including credible threats made against a nuclear power plant. This would include events involving drones and unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP.) The Nuclear Safety and Control Act, Nuclear Security Regulations, associated regulatory documents and licence conditions outline strong requirements on the part of licensees to ensure readiness to mitigate, deter, and respond to credible threats to regulated facilities.

The CNSC is taking steps to enquire with our licencees about any reported drones or UAP sightings and to confirm that nuclear safety was not put at risk from any related sightings. That includes a letter that I have sent to licensees for high-security nuclear sites.

We have also approached our Unites States Nuclear Regulatory Commission  (US NRC) colleagues regarding the nature of their nuclear security requirements for drones and UAPs and potentially evolving requirements. We will discuss their approach further as it evolves. For now, exisitng nuclear security requirements in both countries are well-aligned.

You had three particular questions for follow-up after our May 17th meeting:

1. Understanding the spectrum of CNSC- regulated facilties; 

2. The length of time Canadian nuclear facilities retain security-related data, including video  footage, and:

3. Confirming with CNSC licensees that no incidents with drones or UAPs have occurred at nuclear facilities since the March 2nd RNNR meeting.

On the first question. Canada has one of the most diverse nuclear sectors in the world. Regulated facilities include uranium mining, milling and refining; nuclear substances processing  and end users; fuel production; nuclear power and nuclear research reactors, and waste management.

On the second question, High Security Site Licensees are required to retain all relevant security related records regarding security events for the duration of their operating licence. Unless there is an identified incident, data that are not related to specific events may be disposed of by these licensees as per their specific security program and managment system program.

On the third question, the CNSC is not aware of any reported incidents of drones or UAPs near Canadian nuclear facilities. With a regulatory lens regarding nuclear security, we have taken steps to confirm with licensess that no such events have occurred.

You raised six related questions to Mr Hannaford, Deputy Minister of NRCan, at the May 18th meeting of RNNR. I would like to provide a response to five of the six questions. On the sixth question which pertains to the CNSC's receipt of your March 4th letter, I can confirm we have received  your letter and have since discussed these issues with NRCan.

1. A lack of standardized reporting requirements for licensees to  report on UAP or drones and no formal investigative guidelines to understand origin and/or intent; and

2. Your request to direct nuclear facility licensees to ask employees and security  officials to ensure all drone and UAP incidents are properly reported.

As discussed on May 17th, our regulatory framework is largely performance-based and not prescriptive in how licensees are to meet safety and security objectives and requirements. Licensees are required to report on credible threats. As mentioned above, I have sent a letter to licensees of high-security nuclear sites asking for relevant information. I will be pleased to update you with any related information received that I am able to share.

Licensees are required to prepare for and respond to any credible threats against their sites or facilities. In the caee of nuclear security events, an investigation would typically be led by the police service of jurisdiction and would be supported by the CNSC.

3. Whether NRCan would support the Chief Scientist Advisor (CSA,) were the Government to direct that she lead a whole-of-government approach to standardize the collection of reports and analysis for undentified drones and UAPs.

While this question was directed to NRCan, the CSNC as a technical and scientific organization would offer its full support to the CSA were she directed by government to undertake such an effort.

4. The willingness of the CNSC to begin a conversation with the US NRC on unidentified drones and UAPs.

As noted above, I have reached out to the US NRC and have concluded that our respective nuclear security reporting requirements are aligned. As noted above, we will discuss their approach further as it evolves.

5. Awareness by CNSC officials of UAP sigthings near Canadian nuclear facilities.

The CNSC has not received any reports of drones or UAP sightings near any nuclear facilities. Since our conversation, we have also confirmed that neither drones nor UAPs have caused breaches to nuclear security, or been involved in attempts or actual acts of sabotage  to the nuclear security of nuclear facilities.

I would be pleased to provide you with the results of our Request for Information  to licensees as mentioned earlier. Please feel free to contact the CNSC directly in the future on nuclear regulatory matters, and please do not hestiate to contact me if you have further questions."

AOIMSG cooperation?

So, this action by MP Maguire has led to Canada raising questions with their US counterparts in selected areas, i.e potential or actual drone and UAP intrusions in or near nuclear facilities.

There have been no indications that officials from the AOIMSG have been in contact with the Canadian government seeking cooperation  to "...better assess the nature and extent of UAP."

One question is raised in my mind. Has the US government approached the Australian government seeking co-operation to "...better assess the nature and extent of UAP"? An FOIA request will be submitted to the Australian Department of Defence to pose just this question. 

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