An American veteran who says he guarded a secret stash of nuclear weapons in Newfoundland claims his government would rather see him dead than admit to violations of international law.

Almon Scott, who worked as a guard at the Argentia military base between 1963 and 1965, claims that years before Ottawa allowed nuclear weapons on Canadian soil, he was guarding them at a secret weapons lab in Placentia Bay.

Scott, who is dying, blames the cancer in his blood and bones on his duties four decades ago.

He claims the U.S. government is not only refusing to help him, but will not give the veteran his own service records because that would mean admitting to its ally that it had nuclear materials on Canadian soil without informing the government.

Scott, now 65, said that when he was a young marine assigned to duties at the military base in Argentia, he did what he was told.

"It was a different time. We did our duty, and we didn't ask questions," he said.

With top-secret clearance, Scott said he was assigned to guard duty at a heavily barricaded weapons laboratory.

It was there, he claims, that he was exposed to nuclear weapons.

The U.S. government says there is no proof Scott was exposed to nuclear material at Argentia.

The Department of Foreign Affairs told the CBC any questions about nuclear weapons at Argentia would have to go through the Access to Information Act.

Like other American military facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador, the U.S. naval base and air station at Argentia was built during the Second World War.

Strategically important to North Atlantic activities during the war, the base was also key during the Cold War, with many of its activities considered secret.

The base closed in 1994. Cleanup efforts are still continuing.