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Canada to hold emergency hearings on North Korea missile threat

[OTTAWA] A Canadian parliamentary committee will hold emergency hearings on the threat posed by North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes, an official said Wednesday.

A date for the hearing has not yet been set, but is expected by mid-September, Liberal committee member Mark Gerretsen's office said.

It will hear from government officials and experts on Canada's ability to defend itself against an attack by North Korea, and whether Canada should join the US ballistic missile defence system.

Opposition MPs on the Commons defence committee asked for the hearing amid recent tensions between the United States and North Korea.

Pyongyang tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) last month that appeared to bring much of the US within range.

That sparked a grim warning by President Donald Trump that Washington could rain "fire and fury" on the North.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime later postponed a threat to fire missiles towards the US Pacific island territory of Guam, and Washington said it would be open to dialogue if Pyongyang were to take steps to calm tensions.

Canada declined in 2005 to join the US missile defence shield, fearing it would lead to a new arms race.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government reaffirmed that position in a defense policy review in June, with Mr Trudeau adding Wednesday: "Our longstanding position is not going to be changed anytime soon."

But with concerns growing that a wayward North Korean missile targeting the US could strike Canada, there have been increasing calls to reconsider this stance.