U.S. Bishops: Iran Issue Needs Diplomacy
No "Immediate Threat" Yet, Prelates Contend
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WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 11, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Permitting Iran to develop nuclear weapons is unacceptable, according to U.S. bishops, but without an immediate threat, America must be committed to pursuing a diplomatic solution to the present confrontation.
This was the message delivered by letter last week to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida, on behalf of the U.S. episcopal conference. The bishops were reacting to escalating rhetoric and news accounts speculating about a potential pre-emptive use of force against Iran to deter further possible nuclear weapons ambitions, the conference reported.
"From a moral perspective," Bishop Wenski wrote, "in the absence of an immediate threat […] military action would constitute an act of preventative war."
The Catholic Church, he noted, teaches that "engaging in a preventative war without clear proof that an attack is imminent cannot fail to raise serious moral and juridical questions."
The bishops make clear their assessment that the Iranian situation does not constitute an immediate threat.
Before military action could be considered, according to the bishops, all nonmilitary alternatives must be exhausted. Options, they suggest, range from diplomatic and economic incentives, to increased international involvement and cooperation, to economic sanctions.
The bishops also called on the nation’s leaders to change the United States’ current posture to ensure that nuclear weapons are not used against nonnuclear threats. They also appealed for greater, more sustained progress toward disarmament in the spirit of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.