Holy See to UN on nuclear disarmament: let's get moving

A statement from The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, addressing the UN’s First Committee, which deals with disarmament, urges the UN to quicken the pace of its disarmament efforts at the outset of its 70th session. 

“The Holy See wishes to underline once more that nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction are irreconcilable with, and contrary to, an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and among States,” writes Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Bernardito Auza.

“The entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is languishing, despite the important efforts highlighted at the IX Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, held just two weeks ago,” he notes. “This step towards a world free of nuclear weapons is long overdue.”

“The beginning of negotiations to establish a binding cessation of the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons has languished in the Conference on Disarmament,” the statement adds.

And “it is incumbent upon the United Nations to redouble its efforts to advance these processes, underway for decades but currently moribund, that aim to reduce further the role of nuclear weapons in international security,” it reminds.

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On the bright side, the statement praises good work being done to reduce nuclear weapons in Russia and Iran, mentioning the New START agreement between the Russian and the United States, and the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action between Iran, the permanent members of the Security Council, Germany and the European Union: “With these ongoing positive developments, it should be possible to generate momentum for negotiations to reduce further the nuclear weapons stockpiles of states, whether bilaterally or through a broader process."

But it quickly returns to negatives: “The NPT [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] is a vital component of the international structure of arms control agreements, but it has not managed to become universal. This Committee is an appropriate venue to press for constraints on non-Party States leading to reductions of nuclear arsenals.”

“Similarly, this Committee has a strong interest in reestablishing and bringing forward with greater determination the long overdue process towards a Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction,” it reads.

The statement concludes: 

“As Pope Francis wrote on the occasion of the III Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, ‘a global ethic is needed if we are to reduce the nuclear threat and work towards nuclear disarmament.’ To promote this ‘global ethic,’ we must encourage States and civil society to pursue initiatives aimed at a deeper understanding of the grave humanitarian effects of the use of nuclear weapons. Such initiatives are not only to be encouraged; they should be deemed necessary if we are to build public awareness on the moral imperative to abolish nuclear weapons.”

[Vinnie Rotondaro is NCR national correspondent. His email address is vrotondaro@ncronline.org.]


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