21-September-2012 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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Vatican Official Calls for Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy

Archbishop Mamberti Addresses General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency

By Pietro Gennarini

VIENNA, Austria, SEPT. 20, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, addressed the 56th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on Monday. The autonomous international organization was established by the United Nations as a means to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Citing a speech given by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, Archbishop Mamberti underlined the importance of promoting a "progressive and agreed upon nuclear disarmament and to support the use of peaceful and safe nuclear technology for authentic development, respecting the environment".

While emphasizing the risk of a lack of ethical interaction between people and nations, the archbishop highlighted the challenges connected with nuclear development, saying that they can only be addressed by "cultivating a culture of peace founded upon the primacy of law and the respect for human life".

The "international community should show an effective and visible expression of intent to construct and strengthen a global legal basis for the systematic elimination of all nuclear weapons", he said. In this light, the Holy See regards the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as "a cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime".

"Global security should not rely on nuclear weapons", he said, while stressing that the "Holy See considers the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) an important tool to achieve this aim". The Holy See believes that by working together, the enforcement of the treaty will be a great leap forward for the future of humanity.

Archbishop Mamberti also noted that nuclear weapons are a threat to humanity, and that as long as they exist, so will the threat. Not only are they useless in fighting poverty, health, climate change, terrorism and transnational crime, but the only way to guarantee that they will not be used again is "by their total, irreversible and verifiable elimination". The secretary for the Relation with States of the Holy See emphasized the central role the IAEA has in this regard.

Nuclear safety is also an important issue as evidenced by the Fukushima Daiichi power plant meltdown last year in Japan. The event exposed the fact that a local nuclear crisis is a global problem. "It also revealed that the world is exposed to real and systematic risks, and not just hypothetical ones," he said. Therefore, he stressed, the adoption of appropriate technical and legal measures is vital.

The archbishop praised the Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) of the agency, which is dedicated to "transferring nuclear science and technology to Member States in order to promote social, economic and integral development". Archbishop Mamberti also warned of the danger in using bio and nuclear technologies "solely on the basis of immediate economic interests".

In the context of the TCP, the archbishop stressed the fact that 50% of patients diagnosed with cancer would benefit from radiation therapy, while in the developing world, more than half of the patients diagnosed with cancer do not have access to radiation therapy due to the lack of equipment and trained staff. The prelate applauded and encouraged the IAEA to continue with their efforts in planning and furthering cancer-control programs.

Archbishop Mamberti concluded his statement saying that "the cultural and moral development of every person and all peoples" was more important than the material development and commended the IAEA's contribution to "peace, health and prosperity".

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