Peace Cannot Be Based on Nuclear Arms, Says Vatican

Calls for Reinforcement of Nonproliferation Treaty

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GENEVA, MAY 2, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See called for the reinforcement of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on weapons, including control mechanisms to avoid cheating.



This was the fundamental appeal made by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, permanent observer of the Vatican to the United Nations in Geneva, when he addressed the Preparatory Committee of the 7th Conference to Examine the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is being held here until May 9.

"The architecture of the NPT must be reinforced to enhance international security," he said Tuesday. "This architecture must include effective reporting, verification procedures, mechanisms to combat cheating, and an enforceable rule of law."

"The end of the Cold War should never permit us to overlook the calamitous damage which the use of nuclear weapons would cause," Archbishop Martin continued.

"A so-called peace based on nuclear weapons cannot be the type of peace that we seek for the 21st century," he said. "The proliferation of nuclear weapons can only make the possibility of their use ever more real. No state, big or small, can morally justify escalating such a risk."

For this reason, the archbishop presented three appeals:

--first, "the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons."

--second, the "fight against terrorism also requires enhancing our commitment to an integrated program of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament." The archbishop said: "The threat of terrorist attacks using nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction ought to galvanize the community of nations to ensure that the NPT, the cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime, is strengthened."

--third, "[n]either must we lose sight of the goal of universal adherence to the treaty. The presence of weapons of mass destruction in any region of the world represents, in fact, a threat to long-term regional and global security."

Archbishop Martin also said that the "peace process in the Middle East should thus aim at rapidly consolidating the necessary security presuppositions which will permit the establishment there of a zone verifiably free of all weapons of mass destruction."