Baltimore archbishop takes 'no nukes' message to Paris

Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O'Brien was in Paris yesterday (Feb. 3) to address world leaders working for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Speaking to the Global Zero summit, O'Brien said, "The path to zero [nuclear weapons] will be long and treacherous. But humanity must walk this path with both care and courage in order to build a future free of the nuclear threat.”

O’Brien cited the Second Vatican Council’s condemnation of “total war” and the council’s skepticism of “deterrence” as a way to lasting peace. He quoted Pope Benedict XVI’s 2006 World Day of Peace message, in which the pope said, “In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims.”

Here's the full text of O'Brien's speech. It is essentially a condensed version of a speech I heard the archbishop deliver in Omaha, Nebr., six months ago. Then O'Brien was addressing a symposium sponsored and organized by the United States Strategic Command, the people in charge of our nuclear arsenal.

O'Brien's message in Omaha was strong and unequivocal. It is, he said, a moral imperative for U.S. officials to urgently work for a world free of nuclear weapons.

The speech in Paris must have been as forceful. And we hope it was persuasive. It will contribute to the momentum of ending our nuclear nightmare.

Global Zero is a group of about 200 business, political and military leaders from around the world. It was formed about 14 months ago to plan for the phased, verified elimination of nuclear weapons. Also addressing the summit were former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz and Queen Noor of Jordan.

Messages were sent from U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

The Global Zero plan starts with deep reductions in the U.S. and Russian arsenals, to be followed by multilateral negotiations among all nuclear powers for an agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons.

The plan just might be on track.

U.S. and Russian arms-control negotiators reached an "agreement in principle" on the first nuclear-arms-reduction treaty in nearly two decades, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. The deal -- which would bring down deployed nuclear warheads and sharply limit the number of missiles and bombers that can deliver them -- was approved in principle last week during a phone conversation between Obama and Medvedev.

Rose Gottemoeller, the Obama administration's lead negotiator, flew to Geneva Monday (Feb. 1) to help draft the final text and begin what could still be an arduous process of translating the agreement into treaty language, the Journal reported.

"There may be finessing and fine-tuning, but the issues, from our perspective, are all addressed," the Journal quoted an administration official.

The Paris summit was timed to lead up to the Global Nuclear Security Summit in April, convened at the call of Obama, and a conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in May.

"At our Nuclear Security Summit in April, we will rally nations behind the goal of securing the world's vulnerable nuclear materials in four years," Obama said in his message to the summit in Paris.

USA Today reported that in his statement to the Global Zero summit, Medvedev said Russia is pursuing "a contractual way to nuclear disarmament." He said he is confident that "a productive dialogue and joint efforts of global community will help to achieve the major goal -- to ensure a safe and sustainable future for our common planet."

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