Pope Francis is warning that international relations can no longer be "held captive" by policies of fear and nuclear deterrence and is urging the world to instead endorse an admittedly utopian future free of atomic weapons.
Francis has addressed Nobel peace laureates, UN and NATO officials and diplomats from countries with the bomb during a Vatican conference aimed at galvanizing support for a global shift from the Cold War era policy of nuclear deterrence to one of disarmament.
Speaking in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, Francis acknowledged that current tensions might render efforts at ridding the world of nuclear weapons remote.
But he said reliance on such weapons "create nothing but a false sense of security," and that any use of them, even accidental, would be "catastrophic" for humanity and the environment.
He said: "International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation, and the parading of stockpiles of arms."
The head of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons says a new UN treaty calling for the elimination of atomic weapons will have an effect even on the nuclear powers that refused to sign on.
Beatrice Fihn says previous treaties banning chemical and biological weapons were a crucial first step in making such arsenals illegal, and putting pressure on countries that had the weapons to disarm.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Vatican disarmament conference Friday, Fihn has told The Associated Press: "If international law says it's prohibited, it's going to make it a lot harder for them (nuclear weapons states) to justify their decisions to modernise and invest in new types of weapons."
Fihn's group won the Nobel this year for its instrumental role in galvanizing support for the UN treaty.
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