.- The Holy See's delegate to an international conference on atomic energy has emphasized the value of human life as the central issue in "every step" towards a nuclear weapon-free world. "Humanity," he said in a speech this week, "deserves no less than full co-operation" of the governments of the world in reaching agreements establishing peace and security.
Among the 1,400 participants in the 54th general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is Bishop Ettore Balestrero, the under-secretary for the Vatican Secretariat of State's department for relations with states. This week, he spoke to the assembly, its current president, Mr. Jargalsaikhany Enkhsaikhan, and the director general, Dr. Yukiya Amano, on the Holy See's support for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation measures.
Presenting the Holy Father's greetings to the assembly, Bishop Balestrero highlighted the Pope's words from the message for the 2010 World Day for Peace in which he encouraged "the efforts of the international community to ensure progressive disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons."
Voicing the Holy See's "satisfaction" at advances made towards nuclear disarmament, he underscored its support of the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). As the "only multilateral legal instrument currently available, intended to bring about a nuclear weapons free world," he said that "it must never be allowed to be weakened."
According to the IAEA, the NPT "aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of disarmament."
Bishop Balestrero said the entry into force of the far-reaching Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is "of the highest priority," as is the ratification of measures to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones by all States. The latter, he explained, is "the best example of trust, confidence and affirmation that peace and security are possible without possession nuclear weapons.
"Humanity," he asserted, "deserves no less than the full co-operation of all States in this important matter. Every step on the non-proliferation and disarmament agenda must be built on the principle of the preeminent and inherent value of human dignity and the centrality of the human person, which constitute the basis of international humanitarian law."