Wednesday September 26th, 2018 8:50AM

Pope warns nuclear deterrence only a false sense of security

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis warned Friday that international relations can no longer be "held captive" by fear-based nuclear deterrence policies and urged government leaders to instead pursue an admittedly utopian future of a world free of atomic weapons.

Francis welcomed Nobel laureates, United Nations officials, NATO representatives and diplomats from countries with the bomb to a Vatican conference aimed at galvanizing global support for complete nuclear disarmament.

The pope acknowledged that current tensions might make a rapid shift away from the Cold War-era idea that nations need nuclear weapons to prevent their enemies from using them "increasingly remote."

But he said relying on nuclear arsenals to maintain a balance of power "creates nothing but a false sense of security." Any use of them, even accidental, would be "catastrophic" for humanity and the environment, he warned.

"International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation and the parading of stockpiles of arms," Francis said. Peace and security among nations must instead be "inspired by an ethics of solidarity," he said.

The Catholic Church's first Jesuit and first Latin American pope added that "progress that is both effective and inclusive can achieve the utopia of a world free of deadly instruments of aggression."

Francis endorsed a new U.N. treaty calling for the elimination of atomic weapons, saying it filled an important gap in international law. Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the advocacy group that won this year's Nobel Peace Prize for its instrumental role in getting the treaty passed, is among the speakers at the two-day Vatican meeting.

The conference comes amid mounting tensions on the Korean peninsula and heated rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang over the North's nuclear ambitions. But the event's organizer, Cardinal Peter Turkson, told participants that the gathering was planned well before U.S. President Donald Trump began his current trip to Asia, where the Korean nuclear threat has topped his agenda.

Drawing laughs from the largely secular audience, Turkson said it was "divine providence" that the conference and U.S. president's trip coincided.

The conference is the first major international gathering since 122 countries approved the U.N. nuclear weapons treaty in July. None of the nuclear powers or NATO members signed on to the accord, arguing that its lofty ideals were unrealistic given the rapid expansion of North Korea's nuclear weapons program and other nuclear threats.

Fihn, head of the Nobel-winning ICAN, said the treaty will have an impact even on the nuclear-armed countries that refused to participate. Previous treaties banning chemical and biological weapons were a crucial first step in making such arsenals illegal, and put pressure on countries that had the weapons to disarm, she said.

"If international law says it's prohibited, it's going to make it a lot harder for them (nuclear states) to justify their decisions to modernize and invest in new types of weapons," she told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the conference.

And if nuclear weapons were to be used, the effects would be devastating for humanity and future generations, Francois Bugnion of the International Committee of the Red Cross warned.

"As the (Red Cross) learned in Hiroshima, there are no effective means of assisting survivors while protecting those delivering assistance," Bugnion said. "The majority of victims will be denied the medical assistance they need."

The United States was represented at the conference by its deputy ambassador to the Holy See, Luis Bono, while Russia sent an ambassador and a top nuclear expert, Alexei Arbatov. China and North Korea were invited, but organizers said they didn't attend. Neither has diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

Bono said he wanted to be there because "we're interested to hear what the Holy See is saying" about nuclear disarmament. He noted that Trump was in China meeting with President Xi Jinping and trying to find ways to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear aspirations.

In his speech, Francis didn't mention North Korea by name. The Vatican has ruled out — at least publicly — assuming a mediation role in the tense dispute. But Cardinal Turkson told reporters the Vatican was seeking direct contact with the North via the bishops' conference of South Korea.


This story has been corrected to show that Turkson was speaking Friday, not Thursday.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News
© Copyright 2018
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Jenny McCarthy says Steven Seagal harassed her
Jenny McCarthy says actor Steven Seagal sexually harassed her during an audition in 1995
8:07AM ( 5 minutes ago )
JC Penney reports rising same-store sales
J.C. Penney reports 3rd-quarter loss but tops expectations
7:47AM ( 24 minutes ago )
The Latest: Germany urges Saudis, Iran not to weaken Lebanon
Germany call on Saudi Arabia and Iran not to undermine Lebanon's stability following resignation of Prime Minister Hariri
7:39AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Report: IS leader may be in eastern Syrian city of Boukamal
Syrian army-linked media: IS leader al-Baghdadi may be in a militant pocket in Boukamal, which fell to government forces
7:05AM ( 1 hour ago )
Ex-British double agent says Russian spies must save world
A former British intelligence officer who worked as a double agent for the Soviet Union says Russian spies now have "the difficult and critical mission" of saving the world
7:04AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Bail posted for Catalan parliament speaker
Spain's Supreme Court says a judge has ordered the release of Catalan parliament speaker after bail has been posted
6:59AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
JC Penney reports rising same-store sales
J.C. Penney reports 3rd-quarter loss but tops expectations
7:47AM ( 25 minutes ago )
The Latest: Germany urges Saudis, Iran not to weaken Lebanon
Germany call on Saudi Arabia and Iran not to undermine Lebanon's stability following resignation of Prime Minister Hariri
7:39AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Talks on Pacific trade pact unfinished, progress uncertain
Conflicting reports on progress toward Pacific Rim trade pact minus U.S. as leaders gather for APEC summit
7:37AM ( 34 minutes ago )
China, US leaders square off over multi-nation trade deals
Chinese President Xi Jinping says nations need to stay committed to economic openness or risk being left behind.
7:30AM ( 42 minutes ago )
EU says latest Brexit talks yielded no major decisions
The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator said Friday that no major decisions were taken on Brexit during the latest round of talks this week
7:21AM ( 50 minutes ago )