Pope Francis says world without nuke arms "possible, necessary"

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Sun, 24 Nov 2019 - 10:20 GMT

Pope Francis | Photo: Reuters

Pope Francis | Photo: Reuters

TOKYO, Nov 24 (MENA) - Vatican Pope Francis said Sunday a world without nuclear weapons is "possible and necessary," the Japanese news agency Kyodo reported on Sunday.

He called for action "on the part of all" to realize it in a speech in Nagasaki, one of the world's two atomic-bombed cities.

"A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere," the pope said in a message delivered at the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park in the southwestern Japan city, which he said "witnessed the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences" of a nuclear attack when it was hit by a US atomic bomb in 1945.

"To make this ideal a reality calls for involvement on the part of all: individuals, religious communities and civil society, countries that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not, the military and private sectors, and international organizations," he said.

The speech, which lasted for about 13 minutes in rainy weather, came as Washington and Moscow have been at odds over arms control since the expiration in August of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a 1987 pact between the United States and the Soviet Union.

North Korea's nuclear weapons program and Iran's nuclear activities have also raised concerns about a new arms race.

Speaking in Spanish, the pope asked political leaders "not to forget" that nuclear weapons "cannot protect us from current threats to national and international security."

"We need to ponder the catastrophic impact of their deployment, especially from a humanitarian and environmental standpoint, and reject heightening a climate of fear, mistrust and hostility fomented by nuclear doctrines," the 82-year-old Argentine added.

In another veiled criticism of nuclear weapons states, he said that the possession of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction is "not the answer" to the human desire for security, peace and stability.

The pope also urged the world to "speak out against the arms race," adding that it "wastes precious resources" that should be used for human development and environmental preservation.

The pope arrived in Japan on Sunday for a four-day trip, the first papal visit to Japan in 38 years. He was elected as the Roman Catholic pontiff in 2013.

John Paul II, who in February 1981 made the first papal trip to Japan, pushed for the elimination of nuclear weapons during a visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki amid heightened tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union over the deployment of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

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