Vatican Fears New Arms Race

Warns Against Temptation to Return to Logic of the Cold War

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NEW YORK, OCT. 10, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See warned the United Nations against the danger of returning to the arms race and the logic of the Cold War to ensure an apparent world peace.



Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, expressed that warning Wednesday when he addressed the 1st Committee of the General Assembly on the topic of general and complete disarmament.

The temptation is seductive, the papal representative said, "because we have not done sufficient preparation to give states and their leaders the assurance that security can be obtained without the never-ending development and production of arms."

He said: "The vast majority of Cold War arms control thinking relied on the concept of mutual assured destruction," or MAD.

"Everyone knows that this deterrence concept was based on a terrifying foundation: that one bloc's security can be defended by threatening the annihilation of the other bloc's population," the archbishop continued.

"The horrible prospect of global nuclear warfare was thought to be enough to ensure some form of peace and security, while over time both bilateral and multilateral agreements sought to reduce this possibility by encouraging and verifying the reduction of nuclear weapons in the world. This was made concrete in one particular case by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," he recalled.

"The end of the Cold War should have seen the end of MAD policies that held the world in fear, but events over the past year have led to a certain resurgence in this thinking," he lamented. "With it have come a real weakening of the NPT regime and multilateral efforts for disarmament and nonproliferation."

"By exploiting certain loopholes in the NPT and engaging in covert proliferation activities, some states are once again banking their security on the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons," he said.

"These steps should be alarming to everyone," he said, before reiterating what other Vatican representatives have said in the past: "Nuclear weapons are incompatible with peace in the 21st century."

Quoting U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Archbishop Migliore said that today there are "'hard' and 'soft' threats to peace."

"Among the hard threats are terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, while the soft threats include the persistence of extreme poverty, the disparity of income between and within societies, the spread of infectious diseases, and environmental degradation," he said. "Both types of threats are real and must be recognized by all states."

"The importance of dialogue, negotiation, diplomacy and reference to the rule of law in these proceedings cannot be overestimated. Though we have mediation and verification techniques embodied in international law, they are not being sufficiently utilized, and thus nations lapse into war," he continued.

"The steady application of the rule of law must be supported as the means to peace rather than constant recourse to militarism," the archbishop said.

"If we are to aspire to general and complete disarmament, we must first of all show a respect for life and the dignity and human rights of individuals, reject violence, promote freedom, justice, solidarity, tolerance and the acceptance of differences, and develop better understanding and harmony between ethnic, religious, cultural and social groups," he explained.

"This agenda is indeed vast," he added, "but if the world community does not embrace it, we will continue to suffer the ravages of war."