International News

Bishops Support UN Call To Ban Nuclear Weapons

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The passage of a United Nations treaty banning the possession of nuclear weapons comes at a time when the majority of world’s nations are frustrated with the slow pace of nuclear disarmament.

Even with such a pact ­– years in the making – there is no timeline for total disarmament, arms control experts say.

The real work ahead under the treaty, said Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, is getting the world’s nuclear-weapons possessing countries and dozens more that fall under the so-called “nuclear umbrella” to take seriously the call to reduce and eventually rid the world of ballistic arsenals.

“It’s really phenomenal that it happened,” Dennis said of vote at the U.N. “It fills a gap in international law and agreements that was pretty huge, that every other weapon of such destructive capacity has been made illegal. As some said, ‘These weapons have always been immoral. Now at least they are illegal.’”

The final tally saw 122 nations voting for the ban. Netherlands voted no and Singapore abstained in the final count.

Not present during the voting were the nuclear weapon states of the United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom, Pakistan and India as well as numerous countries falling under the nuclear umbrella. Israel, which many arms control observers believe possesses nuclear weapons, and North Korea, which has tested such weapons but is believed to have not put them in operation, also did not vote.

On the day before the vote, U.S. and European Catholic bishops called for all nations to develop a plan to eliminate nuclear weapons from their arsenals.

A joint declaration released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions called upon the U.S. and European nations to work with other nations to “map out a credible, verifiable and enforceable strategy for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

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