CHURCH STATEMENT ON NUCLEAR TESTS

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, gave an intervention during the General Assembly High-Level Plenary Meeting on the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.

In his statement, Archbishop Auza said today’s International Day enhances public awareness and education about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapon test explosions and the need to proscribe nuclear tests to achieve a nuclear free world. From even before the first test of a nuclear weapon in 1945, the Holy See has expressed concern about the violent use of atomic energy, he said. He urged States whose ratifications are necessary for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty to ratify it. He also said that the Holy See looks forward to the day when the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons enters into force.  

New York, 9 September 2019
Madam President, 

Today’s commemoration and promotion of the International Day Against Nuclear Tests is important to enhance public awareness and education about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapon test explosions, with a view to creating conditions necessary for a universal proscription of nuclear tests as a step toward achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world.
 

The first test of a nuclear weapon, unhappily nicknamed “Trinity,” took place seventy-four years ago in the desert of New Mexico in the United States of America. It has been followed by more than 2,000 nuclear tests, carried out by eight States on four Continents and in the Pacific Ocean area. Even before that test, the Holy See had already voiced deep concern regarding the violent use of atomic energy and since then has unceasingly called for a ban on nuclear weapon tests.
The Holy See has thus ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), because it strongly believes that no further nuclear explosive testing should take place again. My Delegation therefore urges the States whose ratifications are indispensable for the entry into force of the CTBT to ratify the Treaty. Unilateral moratoria, which thankfully have held firm since 1998 with the sole exception of the nuclear weapon tests done by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, can never be considered as an enduring substitute for a CTBT inforce.
 

Moreover, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons bans nuclear tests, “mindful of the unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (hibakusha), as well as of those affected by the testing of nuclear weapons.” The Holy See, which ratified the Treaty on the very first day it was opened for signature and ratification, looks forward to the day it will enter into force, hoping that day will be sooner rather than later.
 

Any future nuclear testing would have the extremely negative consequence of moving us further away from our goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world. Today is an occasion for the international community to recommit itself to doing everything required to ensure that nuclear testing is relegated definitively to the past.


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