The Holy See
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Monday, 17 September 2007

Mr. President,
the Director General,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to bring you the greetings of Pope Benedict XVI who, on Sunday, 29 July 2007, during the weekly Angelus Prayer, recalled the important fiftieth anniversary of the International Atomic Energy Agency with these words:

"Precisely today, in fact, is the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the Statute of the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, instituted with the mandate to "accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world' (art 2)".

The Holy See, fully approving the goals of this Organization, is a member of it since its founding and continues to support its activity.

The epochal changes that have occurred in the last 50 years demonstrate how, in the difficult crossroads in which humanity finds itself, the commitment to encourage non-proliferation of nuclear arms, to promote a progressive and agreed upon nuclear disarmament and to support the use of peaceful and safe nuclear technology for authentic development, respecting the environment and ever mindful of the most disadvantaged populations, is always more present and urgent.

I therefore hope that the efforts of those who work with determination to bring about these three objectives may be achieved, with the goal that "[t]he resources which would be saved could then be employed in projects of development capable of benefiting all their people, especially the poor" (Message for the World Day of Peace 2006, L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 21/28 December 2005, n. 51/52, p. 7). It is also good on this occasion to repeat how: "In place of... the arms race, there must be substituted a common effort to mobilize resources toward objectives of moral, cultural and economic development, redefining the priorities and hierarchies of values" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2438).

Again we entrust to the intercession of Mary Most Holy our prayer for peace, in particular so that scientific knowledge and technology are always applied with a sense of responsibility and for the common good, in full respect for international rights. Let us pray so that men and women live in peace and that they may be as brothers and sisters, children of one Father: God.

Mister President,

These words are an exhortation to the entire international community to commit itself seriously in order to achieve, with effectiveness, three objectives that are intimately linked to one another: the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament and the peaceful and secure use of nuclear technology.

All peaceful uses of nuclear technology must be guided by two principles: they must be respectful of the environment and they must be ever mindful of the most disadvantaged populations.

Furthermore, there are many positive fruits to be harvested from the use of nuclear technology in such vital areas for human beings as food security and, above all, in medicine. The work that the IAEA is carrying out through its "Technical Co-operation Programme" and in particular with PACT, the "Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy", cannot but receive strong support from the Holy See.

These are activities that are to be read within a wider moral context, because they have important repercussions not only for present generations but also for future ones. Finances allotted for such activities are seen as investments for the future of humanity, for the future which, in the words of the Pope, may be able to apply scientific and technical knowledge "with a sense of responsibility and for the common good, while fully respecting international law".

This sense of responsibility for the common good and respect for international law, shared among all nations, must lead all forces to "encourage the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons" and "to promote a progressive and agreed-upon nuclear disarmament".

Non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament are, as the Holy See has frequently stated - most recently during the last Preparatory Committee of the Non-Proliferation Treaty 2010 Review Conference -, "interdependent and mutually reinforcing and their transparent and responsible implementation represents one of the principal instruments not only in the fight against nuclear terrorism, but also in the concrete realization of a culture of life and of peace capable of promoting in an effective way the integral development of peoples". The integral development of peoples will be widely advanced by an honest and effective pursuit of the three objectives indicated by Pope Benedict XVI in his Angelus Address of last 29 July. These objectives are moral imperatives; they are also politically possible.

Mister President,

During the last fifty years, the IAEA has carried out, and continues to carry out, an important and delicate technical role of advising and assisting States in the nuclear field, capable of favouring the attainment of two priority objectives on the international level - objectives which, with the passing of time, reveal an ever-great inter-connectedness. These two objectives are none other than the defence of peace and security, and the promotion and development of peoples.

After the Second World War we have witnessed a significant development of the nuclear issue, before which there have been various international responses intended to re-enforce the legal ordering in this field. Here one can recall the important contribution offered by the IAEA to the development of nuclear law.

In fact, in its first fifty years the International Atomic Energy Agency has consolidated and strengthened the three "pillars" that lie at the base of its mandate: (1) to assist Member States in the use of peaceful nuclear technology through an exchange of information, as well as research and technical cooperation; (2) to promote nuclear "security" and "safety", through the elaboration and implementation of an effective world-wide security regime, based on conventions, standards and assistance to Member States; (3) to carry out verifications on the effective peaceful use of nuclear technology, through its complex web of safeguard agreements, the Additional Protocol and the new norms of the "Small Quantities Protocol".

During the last half century there have obviously been some difficulties, due to the complexity itself of the nuclear issue, whose technology is subject to notable and rapid developments. The difficulties that emerge on account of these rapid developments are in continuous evolution and represent, therefore, the major challenges for the near future. Here, one thinks of the black market for nuclear material that also involves non-State actors; the slow pace of nuclear disarmament; the difficulties faced in implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as the entire non-proliferation regime itself.

These challenges can be seriously faced only by cultivating a culture of peace founded on the primacy of law and on respect for human life. This means that a multilateral approach, permeated by dialogue and honesty, as well as by a responsible co-operation among all members of the international community, must be reinforced. This is the best "way to ensure [that] a future of peace for everyone is found not only in international accords for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, but also in the determined commitment to seek their reduction and definitive dismantling" (Message of Pope Benedict XVI for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2007, no. 15).

Such a multilateral approach must be marked by the development and actuation of a new paradigm of collective security in which each country recognizes the clear limits of recourse to nuclear weapons for its own security.

In the difficult crossroads in which humanity today finds itself, a crossroads characterized by an ever-increasing interdependence on the economic, political, social and environmental levels, the use of force no longer represents a solution sustainable through time: it nourishes a reciprocal diffidence and makes reference to a distorted sense of priorities that makes use of enormous resources in a near-sighted way. The temptation to confront new situations with old systems must be avoided.

As Pope Benedict XVI has stated, it is necessary to re-define "the priorities and the hierarchies of values" on the basis of which one can focus "a common effort to mobilize resources towards objectives of moral, cultural and economic development". In order to promote such an approach, it is indispensable to favour a serious multilateralism based on a renewed collective sense of security, one capable of building a real climate of peace and trust that recognizes that development, solidarity and justice are none other than the true name for peace, for a lasting peace in time and in space.

Thank you, Mister President.

*L'Osservatore Romano 23.9.2007 p.2.