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Holy See Calls For a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

IAEA

Vatican Radio - published on 09/23/14 - updated on 06/07/17

Speaking of lasting peace as a common good that the entire human family can only benefit from, we wish to reiterate that the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons is paramount for all humankind. Yet the attaining of this objective cannot be the final word with regard to peace: special emphasis must be given to worldwide nuclear disarmament. This must be a goal for all states, especially for those who possess nuclear weapons or who want to develop or acquire them. Furthermore it is a goal which ought not to be considered unrealistic. The reality of peace unquestionably requires a change of course which can be accomplished by decision-making which is clear and firm, and by a willingness to seek and achieve nuclear disarmament. As in years past, the Holy See urges governments and scientific experts engaged in the field of military defence to work strenuously towards such disarmament. These concerted efforts, fostered by sincere negotiation and strengthened by a fulfilment of contractual obligations, must be founded on due respect for the fundamental rights of all persons and on mutual trust.

Earlier this year, referring to non-proliferation and disarmament, Pope Francis stated: “As long as so great a quantity of arms are in circulation as at present, new pretexts can always be found for initiating hostilities. For this reason, I make my own the appeal of my predecessors for the non-proliferation of arms and for disarmament of all parties, beginning with nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament. We cannot however fail to observe that international agreements and national laws — while necessary and greatly to be desired — are not of themselves sufficient to protect humanity from the risk of armed conflict. A conversion of hearts is needed which would permit everyone to recognize in the other a brother or sister to care for, and to work together with, in building a fulfilling life for all” (2014 Message of His Holiness Francis for the Celebration for the World Day of Peace, 7).

A world free of weapons of mass destruction is the final aim of this process of disarmament. The task is one which is all the more pressing for people who suffer the dire consequences of war and terrorism. It is also widely recognized that nowadays the risk of nuclear weapons being used is growing throughout the world due to three factors: the first, proliferation of such weapons; second, the vulnerability of nuclear command and control networks to cyber-attacks or human error; third, the possibility of nuclear weapons being accessed by non-state actors, terrorist groups in particular. My delegation considers it necessary for governments and politicians to do all that is within their power to establish a zone free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East Region.

Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is a cause that must be taken up by all states, especially those in possession of nuclear weapons. From a humanitarian point of view, we are all acutely aware of just how catastrophic and irreversible the consequences of any use of these weapons would be. This year we commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War and the 75th of the Second World War, both of which unleashed unprecedented levels of violence on a global scale, causing millions of deaths, inflicting untold injury and bringing vast destruction. The use of an atomic weapon brought awful consequences that are still being felt today. Modern nuclear weapons, significantly more powerful than those used in 1945, are able to annihilate the whole human race either by direct impact or by the disastrous aftermath of such attacks. We therefore support the view that the mere existence of these weapons is absurd and that arguments in support of their use are an affront against the dignity of all human life. Our conviction largely hinges on the vastness of damage and appalling consequences that could come from a nuclear explosion and a sobering assessment of the immense resources required to maintain and modernize nuclear arsenals. This is why the Holy See continues to support all efforts to ensure peace and bring about the conditions that foster it.

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