Live Up to Nuclear-Disarmament Treaty, Urges Holy See

In U.N. Address, It Laments «Vicious Circle» of Arms

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NEW YORK, MAY 5, 2005 ( The Holy See is urging that the world community respect the commitment to end the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to eliminate existing ones.

The Vatican’s position was voiced Wednesday by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, when addressing the U.N. review conference of the state-parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

«The time has gone for finding ways to a ‘balance in terror,'» the prelate said. «The time has come to re-examine the whole strategy of nuclear deterrence.»

The conference to review the treaty — in force since 1970 — will end May 27. It has brought together delegates from 188 countries.

The working sessions revealed that countries legitimately equipped with nuclear arms are not respecting the commitment assumed five years ago, to engage in talks to achieve total nuclear disarmament, because of the clandestine arms proliferation, which could fall into the hands of terrorism.

Moreover, some nations are acquiring these weapons, accusing the nuclear powers of not respecting the assumed commitments.

The result, as Archbishop Migliore pointed out, is a «vicious circle.»

«The Holy See again emphasizes that the peace we seek in the 21st century cannot be attained by relying on nuclear weapons,» he said.

«The century opened with a burst of global terrorism, but this threat must not be allowed to undermine the precepts of international humanitarian law, which is founded on the key principles of limitation and proportionality,» the Holy See representative added.

«We must always remember that the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated,» he warned. «Nuclear weapons, even so-called low yield weapons, endanger the processes of life and can lead to extended nuclear conflict.

«Nuclear weapons assault life on the planet, they assault the planet itself, and in so doing they assault the process of the continuing development of the planet. The preservation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty demands an unequivocal commitment to genuine nuclear disarmament.»

The archbishop continued: «The Holy See therefore calls upon the nuclear weapons states to take a role of courageous leadership and political responsibility in safeguarding the very integrity of the NPT and in creating a climate of trust, transparency and true cooperation, with a view to the concrete realization of a culture of life and peace which will promote the integral development of the world’s peoples.

«Thus, in an effort to put priorities and hierarchies of values in their proper place, a greater common effort must be made to mobilize resources towards moral, cultural and economic development so that humanity may turn its back on the arms race.»

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