Thursday, March 17, 2011

Intercontinental Ecumenical Effort to Reduce Nuclear Arms

Four ecumenical councils - the World Council of Churches, the Conference of European Churches, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, and the Canadian Council of Churches - have issued joint letters urging NATO to remove US nuclear weapons based in Europe. The joint letter refers to the approximately 200 US nuclear weapons deployed in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and Turkey, as “remnants of Cold War strategies,” and calls on NATO to move past deterrence as a viable security policy and work on"creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons" instead. The move would reduce from 14 to 9 the number of countries worldwide currently housing nuclear weapons on their territory.

The on-going crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan underscores the incredible risks posed by ostensibly safe nuclear power. The prospect of catastrophic events such as Japan is currently experiencing compounds the already unacceptable environmental and security hazards created as a by-product of nuclear power. That is to say, even when nuclear power goes entirely according to plan, the nuclear waste material produced in the process still poses an unacceptable risk to human health and safety. And those are the risks of non-weaponized nuclear power.

Last year's New START treaty, heralded as a major step forward for nuclear arms reduction, still allows both the US and Russia to maintain 1,550 deployed nuclear weapons at any given moment, and does nothing to limit the thousands of operationally inactive nuclear warheads stockpiled by both nations. The continued existence of such weapons represents perhaps one of the greatest dangers for the health and security of life on this planet, and as such the maintenance of nuclear arsenals can only be considered theologically unconscionable. We celebrate the cooperative efforts of these ecumenical associations, and join them in the call for a more peaceful, nuclear-free world.