Say Religious, Scientific Leaders
by Jim Lobe, March 9, 2004
WASHINGTON -- An international
group of religious and scientific leaders Monday launched an
appeal to the United States and all other nuclear states to pledge
never to use nuclear weapons and re-affirm their commitments
to achieving total nuclear disarmament.
The appeal, signed by the head of the U.S. National Council of
Churches (NCC) and the president of the international Catholic
peace group, Pax Christi, and 74 others--including four Nobel
laureates--declared such weapons to be "inherently immoral" and
expressed particular concern over U.S. plans to develop of a
new generation of nuclear bombs.
Even so-called 'mini-nukes' and 'bunker-busters' would have disastrous
effects," the statement declared. "Threatened use of
nuclear weapons in the name of deterrence is morally wrong because
it holds innocent people hostage for political and military purposes."
Why do we continue to construct weapons that have the power to
destroy us," asked Rev. Robert Edgar, general secretary
of the NCC, which represents some 140,000 Protestant congregations
in the U.S., "rather than build systems and structures that
will save lives and help all persons reach the potential for
which God created them?"
Edgar said the
appeal was being made with a "sense of real
urgency," in light of new nuclear planning by the Bush administration
and the failure to date of any of the declared nuclear powers
to substantially reduce their stockpiles.
More than a decade after the end of the Cold War, the United
States and Russia retain a total of about 10,000 tactical and
strategic nuclear weapons each. Together, they account for more
than 95 percent of the world's total arsenal.
According to recent
estimates by the Washington-based Center for Defense Information,
China is next with an estimated 400
warheads, followed by France, with 350; Israel, with perhaps
200; Britain, with 185; India, with 60 or more; and Pakistan,
with as many as 48. The Central Intelligence Agency says it
believes North Korea has had as many as two devices for several
Under the 1968 Treaty on the Nonproliferation
of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), nuclear countries must not only halt
the spread of nuclear
weapons to non-nuclear countries, but also agree to reduce
their own arsenals to zero. In 1996, the International Court
at The Hague ruled that the NPT required eventual disarmament,
a position that was formally reaffirmed in 2000 by the five
permanent members of the UN Security Council.
the Moral Appeal for a Safer World without Nuclear Weapons
This article was originally published