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File photo of Pope Francis' meeting with Hiroshima/Nagasaki survivors at a Vatican Conference on Nuclear Disarmament in 2017 File photo of Pope Francis' meeting with Hiroshima/Nagasaki survivors at a Vatican Conference on Nuclear Disarmament in 2017  (Servizio Fotografico "Osservatore Romano")

Holy See reaffirms support for Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

The Vatican Secretary of State reaffirms the Holy See’s support for a comprehensive ban on nuclear tests and encourages all States to take action to restore contaminated areas and assist victims of radioactive nuclear testings.

By Linda Bordoni

At a time in which nuclear rhetoric and the threat of nuclear war is on the rise, Cardinal Parolin has reiterated the Holy See’s firm stance against nuclear tests and expressed its support for the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The Vatican Secretary of State also called for attention to contaminated environments and assistance for those who have suffered due to radioactivity released by nuclear testing, which he said, “has a disproportionate impact on women, girls, and the unborn, and has contaminated environments across the world.”

Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

Speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s annual session in New York at a high-level meeting of the “Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty” (CTBT), the Cardinal said that 26 years after it was opened for signature, the Treaty remains a vital component of the nuclear disarmament regime.

Representatives at the meeting on Wednesday of six countries – Japan, Australia, Canada, Germany, Finland, and the Netherlands – agreed that the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty should take effect “without further delay” and expressed determination “to pursue its entry into force for the benefit of all states.”

The framework was launched in 2002 to build momentum toward the early entry into force of the UN treaty which bans countries from carrying out all types of nuclear explosive tests. For the pact to come into effect, it must be signed and ratified by all 44 countries that had nuclear reactors for research or power generation when the treaty was under negotiation, but eight of them — China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and the United States — have yet to do so.

Calling upon all States to maintain adherence to the zero-yield moratorium, Cardinal Parolin deplored any resumption of testing.

“As global tensions rise and we hear rhetoric threatening the use of nuclear weapons, it is more crucial than ever to bring the CTBT into force.”

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

The Cardinal pointed out that the six States that signed the agreement are all also party to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), and said, “It is the hope of the Holy See that as the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty Organization (CTBTO) seeks additional signatures and ratifications, it finds ways to collaborate with efforts that promote and strengthen the TPNW, especially in verification.”

The Secretary of State concluded with a call to remember and assist those who have been affected by radioactivity released by nuclear testing and to work for the decontamination of the environment.

“The Holy See encourages all States,” he said, “especially those that rely on nuclear deterrence, to contribute to efforts that seek to remediate contaminated environments and assist victims who have suffered harm."

“While these States do not currently have a legal responsibility to contribute to such efforts, they have moral obligation to redress the harms inflicted by nuclear testing.”

22 September 2022, 15:01