Vatican to UN: It is immoral to threaten use of nuclear weapons as deterrence

Vatican to UN: It is immoral to threaten use of nuclear weapons as deterrence

Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. Courtesy photo.
Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. Courtesy photo.

.- A Vatican official challenged the security theory of nuclear deterrence as immoral at the United Nations this week and called for “genuine progress” toward complete nuclear disarmament.

“Seeking security through arms … only makes us progressively more insecure,” Archbishop Gabriele Caccia said at the UN’s first committee general debate in New York on Oct. 19.

“The strategic doctrines of the Nuclear-Weapons-Possessing States have contributed to fomenting this climate of fear, mistrust and hostility afflicting the world today,” he said.

Caccia, the permanent observer of the Holy See to the UN, underlined that complete disarmament needed to begin “with a renunciation of defense strategies that blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional weapons.”

“If it is immoral to threaten to use nuclear weapons for purposes of deterrence, it is even worse to intend to use them as just another instrument of war, as some nuclear doctrines propose,” the archbishop said, citing Pope Francis’ 2017 speech to an international disarmament symposium.

There are currently nine countries in possession of nuclear warheads: the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea. 

Among these, the U.S., Russia, and the U.K. have been reducing their nuclear inventories, while China, Pakistan, India, and North Korea are expanding their nuclear arsenals, according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

While the number of nuclear weapons in the world has decreased significantly from its peak of an estimated 70,300 in 1986, the FAS reports that there were approximately 13,410 warheads in the world as of early 2020.

The Vatican official called on all states possessing nuclear weapons to make “a No-First-Use pledge.”

He lauded the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) for providing “full recognition to the enormous humanitarian consequences that would follow from a conflict in which nuclear weapons were used.”

“As we await the day for the TPNW to enter into force, it is imperative to continue encouraging, through concerted diplomatic activity, the participation of all Nuclear-Weapon-Possessing States in negotiations to establish ceilings, if not reductions, regarding their nuclear weapons,” Caccia said.

“Genuine progress toward general and complete disarmament should free up much-needed resources ‘that could be better used to benefit the integral development of peoples and protect the natural environment,’” he said, quoting Pope Francis’ recent address to the UN General Assembly.

He continued: “As we embark on the Decade of Action for sustainable development, the Holy See urges renewed consideration the establishment of ‘a Global Fund,’ as first urged by Pope Paul VI, to assist those most impoverished peoples, drawn partially from military expenditures: a contemporary and much-need expression of ‘turning swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks,’ to which the words of Isaiah, inscribed across the street from the entrance to the United Nations, never cease to summon us.”

Tags: Vatican, Catholic News, United Nations, Nuclear Weapons, Catholic Church, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia

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