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End arms race for nuke-free world, pope says in Nagasaki

Francis declares that possession of nuclear weapons is as immoral as the use of atomic energy for purposes of war

ucanews reporter, Nagasaki

ucanews reporter, Nagasaki

Updated: November 25, 2019 01:32 AM GMT
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End arms race for nuke-free world, pope says in Nagasaki

Pope Francis delivers his speech at the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter in Nagasaki on Nov. 24. He railed against the use of nuclear weapons as he paid tribute to the 'unspeakable horror' suffered by victims of the Nagasaki atomic bomb. (Photo: AFP)

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Pope Francis called for sustained efforts to end the resource-wasting arms race to create a world free of nuclear weapons as he visited the nuclear-bombed Japanese city of Nagasaki.

The head of the Catholic Church made the call on Nov. 24 at the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park in Nagasaki, one of two Japanese cities bombed by the US 74 years ago.

"This place makes us deeply aware of the pain and horror that we human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another," Pope Francis said.

The pontiff is also scheduled to visit Hiroshima, the first of the two Japanese cities bombed with nuclear weapons during the Second World War.

"The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possession of atomic weapons is immoral," he said. "We will be judged on this."

The US bombings in 1945 devastated the two cities and killed an estimated 226,000 people instantly and a large number over a period of time.

Pope Francis recalled that a damaged cross and statue of Our Lady recently discovered in the Cathedral of Nagasaki "remind us once more of the unspeakable horror suffered in the flesh by the victims of the bombing and their families."

The world longs for "security, peace and stability … but possession of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction is not the answer to this desire; indeed they seem always to thwart it," he said.

"Our world is marked by a perverse dichotomy that tries to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust, one that ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any form of dialogue."

The arms race waste "precious resources" in a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, he said. The money used to manufacture, upgrade, maintain and sell destructive weapons is "an affront crying out to heaven," he said.

The involvement of all sections of society needs to create a world free from nuclear weapons. Individuals, religious communities, civil society, countries that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not, the military and private sectors, and international organizations have a role in making the world free of nuclear weapons, the pope said.

The "joint and concerted" effort against nuclear weapons must be "to build mutual trust and thus to surmount the current climate of distrust."

The pope said the climate of distrust could lead to a dismantling of the international arms control framework and erosion of multilateralism. It is "serious in light of the growth of new forms of military technology," he said.

The situation calls for the attention and commitment of all leaders, he said without naming any country or leader.

The number of nuclear weapons is decreasing globally but the pace is slower compared to what it was 25 years ago, according to published records of the Federation of American Scientists.

While the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom are reducing their overall warhead inventories, France and Israel have stable stocks, while China, Pakistan, India and North Korea are increasing their warhead inventories, according to the federation.

The Catholic Church is "irrevocably committed to promoting peace," Pope Francis said. The Church supports international efforts to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, he said.

He said that "a world without nuclear weapons is possible and necessary" and urged political leaders not to forget that "these weapons cannot protect us from current threats to national and international security."

He wanted world leaders to reflect on how the world's resources can be used for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to achieve integrated human development.

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