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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Holy See at the 58th Conference of the IAEA: nuclear disarmament is a realistic objective

Vatican City, 20 September 2014 (VIS) – Archbishop Antoine Camilleri, under secretary for Relations with States, attended the 58th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), held in Vienna yesterday. He began his address by emphasising that the Holy See commends and supports all the activities of the IAEA, which contribute to “authentic human development and foster peace and prosperity throughout the world”, and remarked that, in relation to the Agency's significant achievements, “the Holy See believes that improved public awareness and recognition ... would come about through a greater use of the modern means of communication and a deeper cooperation with civic and political authorities”. Moreover, he added, “we believe that these activities … are compatible with Pope Francis' call for fraternity, articulated in his 2014 Message for the World Day of Peace”.

He went on to stress that the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons is “paramount for all humankind. Yet the attainment of this objective cannot be the final word with regard to peace: special emphasis must be given to worldwide nuclear disarmament. This must be a goal for all states, especially for those who possess nuclear weapons or who want to develop or acquire them. Furthermore it is a goal which ought not to be considered unrealistic. The reality of peace unquestionably requires a change of course which can be accomplished by decision-making which is clear and firm, and by a willingness to seek and achieve nuclear disarmament. As in years past, the Holy See urges governments and scientific experts engaged in the field of military defence to work strenuously towards such disarmament”. He commented that this year is the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, and the seventy-fifth of the Second World War, conflicts whose terrible consequences we still experience to this day.

Archbishop Camilleri turned his attention to the great worldwide interest in ensuring the enhancement and improvement of nuclear safety since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plants in March 2011. “This is the path that must be pursued: doing everything humanly possible to prevent accidents at nuclear facilities and minimising any consequences should an accident occur”. He concluded by confirming that the Holy See delegation “wishes to encourage and support the efforts and innovative approaches tht concern the management and safe disposal of radioactive waste”, and reiterated the great importance attached by the Holy See to the successful cooperation of the IAEA with other United Nations organisations such as the WHO and the FAO.

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