ROME, Italy — Pope Francis declared Tuesday that a world without nuclear weapons is “both necessary and possible” whereas such weapons are only “a costly and dangerous liability.”
Not only the use of nuclear weapons, but also their mere possession “is immoral,” the pontiff told participants in the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
“Trying to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security and a ‘balance of terror’ sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust inevitably ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any possible form of real dialogue,” the pope insisted.
Francis said that the Holy See has “no doubt” that a world free from nuclear weapons is both necessary and possible, adding that in a system of collective security, “there is no place for nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”
Nuclear deterrence is an inadequate response to new threats to peace and security in the twenty-first century such as “terrorism, asymmetrical conflicts, cybersecurity, environmental problems, poverty,” he asserted.
These concerns are even greater when we consider “the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences that would follow from any use of nuclear weapons, with devastating, indiscriminate and uncontainable effects, over time and space,” he added.
Moreover, the simple maintenance of these weapons gives rise to a precarious situation from “the risk of accidents, involuntary or otherwise, that could lead to very troubling scenarios,” he said.
Nuclear weapons are “a costly and dangerous liability” as a “risk multiplier” that provides only an illusion of peace, he declared.
The possession of nuclear weapons creates “a mentality of fear and mistrust,” the pope asserted, and possession “leads easily to threats of their use, becoming a sort of ‘blackmail’ that should be repugnant to the consciences of humanity.”
The responsibility for disarmament falls upon everyone’s shoulders, he said, asking “how can we possibly envisage pushing the button to launch a nuclear bomb?”
“How can we, in good conscience, be engaged in modernizing nuclear arsenals?” he added.