With its outspoken Pope leading the way, total nuclear disarmament is now on the Vatican's agenda.
In a new article in Defense News, Ploughshares Fund president Joe Cirincione writes about how the Holy See is taking aim at the world's nuclear arsenals. "Up to now, the church has abhorred the inhumanity of these weapons that indiscriminately target innocent civilians and would kill them in massive numbers," Cirincione notes. "But—until now—it has recognized a need for states to have nuclear weapons to deter other countries from launching a nuclear attack on them."
Under the guidance of Pope Francis, this position of begrudging acceptance has now officially changed. The Vatican stands firmly against nuclear weapons as a means of necessary deterrence and has embarked on a campaign calling for the complete, global eradication of all nuclear weapons.
With the multilateral deal over Iran's nuclear energy program still making headlines, the Pope's support of the agreement was an important endorsement. The Catholic leader has expressed his hope that the deal will lead not only to a nuclear weapons free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East, but also to wider - and wholesale - elimination of the planet's existing nuclear arsenals in the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.
It is often forgotten that a NWFZ for the Middle East was first proposed by Iran in 1974. Even after the fall of the U.S.-backed Shah five years later, the Iranian leadership has continued to publicly support such a goal ever since. In addition to declaring no interest in acquiring an atomic bomb of its own, Iranian leaders have long condemned nuclear weapons in general. Indeed, Pope Francis' own words are often nearly identical to those of Iranian officials, past and present.
Noting this similarity, I put this thing together to test your knowledge of both papal and Iranian rhetoric. Enjoy.
September 25, 2015 - Addressing the United Nations General Assembly today, Pope Francis reiterated his stance on the Iran deal and nuclear weapons.
The deal, he said, "is proof of the potential of political good will and of law, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy," adding, "I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious, and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved."
Beyond this, "There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons," the pope said.