The US is not obligated to defend Canada in the event of a ballistic missile attack, a top Canadian defence official has told a parliamentary committee.
On Thursday, Lt. Gen. Pierre St-Amand, the deputy commander of the North American Aerospace Defence Command, said: "The extent of the US policy is not to defend Canada... That's the fact I can bring to the table."
The Command is responsible for defending the skies and maritime approaches to North America, reports Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
The debate over whether Canada should join the US ballistic missile defence programme re-emerged this year following a series of successful intercontinental ballistic missile tests by North Korea.
The Liberal government in its latest defence policy review chose to uphold a 2005 decision by former Prime Minister Paul Martin to remain outside of the US missile shield.
The often-cited political narrative has been that the US would shoot down a missile if it was headed toward Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal.
However, St-Amand confirmed that there was no guarantee and it would be a decision made "in the heat of the moment" by US political and military leaders, CBC reported.
Meanwhile, Mark Gwozdecky, assistant deputy minister for international security at Global Affairs Canada, said on Thursday that the Kim Jong-un regime does not have Canada in its "crosshairs", but the rogue regime does represent a significant threat to global peace.
"There's been no direct threat to Canada... In fact, on the contrary, in recent contacts with the North Korean government, including in August when our national security adviser was in Pyongyang, the indications were they perceived Canada as a peaceful and indeed a friendly country."
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