“Still much to accomplish” to eliminate nuclear threat, says Vatican U.N. observer

.- Although the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) “has contributed to international peace and security, there is still much to accomplish,” said Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations.

He spoke yesterday in New York at the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT. The meeting which began on April 26, concludes May 7.

He recalled the ideal of the NPT, which “promised a world in which nuclear weapons would be eliminated and nuclear technological cooperation for development would be widespread.”

He said that a weakening commitment to the application of the principles of the treaty is a cause for concern which threatens to undermine it. This is a serious danger in “the current geo-political environment” said the archbishop. “The threat posed by global terrorist networks acquiring weapons of mass destruction, requires us to reinforce these commitments. At the same time, it is becoming obvious that nuclear business as usual cannot continue.”

He mentioned three major causes for concern: 1)Nuclear-weapon States have not given evidence of fulfilling their obligations related to the elimination of their nuclear arsenals; 2) Non-nuclear-weapon States Parties have Article II obligations which include not receiving, transferring, manufacturing or otherwise acquiring nuclear weapons yet “it is becoming clear that peaceful (use of nuclear energy) can be too easily diverted into weapons programs”; 3) “Yet another problem is posed by States which remain outside or withdraw from the NPT.”

The Vatican’s position, said the Archbishop, is that “a ‘peace’ based on nuclear weapons cannot be the peace we seek in the 21st century. … A global dialogue is necessary” which “should be multilateral, informed by public opinion and the views of expert analysts.” He affirmed the Holy See’s support for “an international conference to identify ways to eliminate nuclear dangers, such as those explicitly mentioned in the U.N. Millennium Declaration.”

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