Nuclear Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Development


Study Day 10 February 2010 – The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference will be held in New York on 3-28 May 2010. Within the context of increased public awareness of nuclear issues, with their connected questions in the military and civil fields, and faced with the emergence of new situations such as the increased energy demand, terrorism, the nuclear ‘black market’, and the redefining of national and regional security doctrines, this conference is a historic opportunity for the international community to reach and promote a solid consensus on disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. What can the success of the conference assure? Which measures should be adopted during the conference to ensure agreement among States Parties and to simultaneously reinvigorate the three pillars of the NPT: nuclear disarmament, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes? This debate is essential for the promotion of an integral human development. In this perspective, the international community should adopt farsighted behaviour in favour of peace and security and avoid shortsighted approaches to the problems of national and international security. This is why, as a sign of encouragement as well, the Holy See has ratified all the main disarmament conventions, including, for example, the NPT, on 25 February 1971, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), on 18 July 2001. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that the Holy See has been a founding member of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) since 1957, with which it signed the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement on 26 June 1972 and the Additional Protocol on 24 September 1998. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which issued a Statement on the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons in 1981, has thus decided to organise on 10 February 2010 a closed Study Day on ‘Nuclear Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Development’, involving a limited number of experts in the field, to further the analysis of this continuing process. The meeting will have a morning and an afternoon session, beginning with an introduction by Prof. Nicola Cabibbo, President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, followed by a series of keynote papers that will form the basis for a discussion among the participants. These papers will address the subject of the meeting from an interdisciplinary perspective: nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament; economics and development; energy; the environment and climate change; sociology, ethics and politics. In this sense, the discussion could be enriched by the following strongly interdependent questions:

Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation
Is owning nuclear weapons or threatening to use them effective and/or legal in assuring national and international security? Which alternatives to nuclear disarmament could nuclear-weapons States adopt to meet these security needs? Which long-term strategies should be adopted in the nuclear field and how can the importance of nuclear weapons be reduced in national/regional military doctrines? Which factors still motivate the retention of a high alert status and how could forsaking the alert status contribute to nuclear disarmament? What are the prospects for the entering into force of the CTBT and for the reaching of an agreement on a fissile material ban? How can nuclear disarmament become more transparent and what are the most effective forms of monitoring and verification? What kind of impact can ‘double standard’ policies have on the future of nuclear non-proliferation and on the NPT? How can terrorism and the nuclear ‘black market’ be countered? How should the issue of nuclear fuel be dealt with and what are the prospects for a new framework for the nuclear fuel cycle, as for instance an international control mechanism? Do the international agencies dealing with disarmament, non-proliferation and development meet the needs of the international community? Is it necessary to strengthen their roles? How? 

Economics and development 
Since the struggle for access to natural resources is one of the causes of various conflicts, inter alia in Africa, just as it is a source of permanent risk in other situations, could it give rise to new nuclear powers? What are the prospects for the relationship between human integral development and sustainable development, on the one hand, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, on the other? What are the general economic and financial costs/benefits of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and what are the political and social costs/benefits? What is the relationship between poverty (and hunger) and weapons of mass destruction and how can this relationship be positively influenced? Article 26 of the United Nations Charter commits States to maintaining ‘international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources’: how can this provision be really implemented? How can the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation process be reconciled with the ‘inalienable right of [all] the Parties [to the Treaty] to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes’, recognised by art. iv.1 of the NPT? How can we guarantee the exercise of such rights and responsibilities according to international law and in a non-discriminatory way? How can we deal with the problem of the circulation and access to ‘dual use’ goods and knowledge, that is, those goods and knowledge that may have a dual civil and military use? 

The Environment, energy, climate: ‘to cultivate peace, one must protect creation’ (Benedict XVI, ‘Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps’, 11 January 2010). Is the development and use of nuclear technology in the sectors of agriculture, medicine and energy sustainable in the long term? How can international cooperation in this field be fostered? Where do nuclear issues stand in the debate on low-carbon emission strategies and the growing demand for energy? How will nuclear disarmament impact on the environment and on global climate change? How can access to nuclear energy and its technology be facilitated while, at the same time, adequately responding to the inherent challenges in the safety and security of nuclear sites? How can the problem of radioactive waste be dealt with responsibly in a safe, secure and environmentally-friendly way? How can the hopes of people around the world be galvanised by the conviction that to cultivate peace we must protect Creation and that our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards human ecology and vice versa?

Sociology, ethics and politics: ‘opus iustitiae pax’ (Is 32, 17)
How can we forget Servant of God Pope John Paul II’s message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1983 when he stated that ‘Peace is born not only from the elimination of theatres of war. Even if all the latter were eliminated others would inevitably appear, if injustice and oppression continue to govern the world’? How can multilateralism be encouraged and how can a climate of confidence be recreated in this field? Since in the globalised world, regional confrontations and conflicts can give rise to new nuclear powers, how do nuclear weapons influence the regionalisation of conflicts? Can the cooperation model used by States, international organisations and civil society, for example in the field of anti-personnel land mines and cluster munitions, be applied to the nuclear field? What is the role of civil society in achieving a world without nuclear weapons and how can public opinion and the media contribute effectively to this process? How can the doctrine of nuclear deterrence be justified in relation to ethical principles, to the International Humanitarian Law, to the Declaration of Human Rights, and to the supreme value of the human person? Is this doctrine conceivable in the current international scenario, where conflicts have extended to State and non-State actors? How can we counteract threats to national and international security posed by the likelihood that non-State actors – who, moreover, are conceptually outside the bounds of a deterrent strategy – will gain possession of nuclear weaponry? How can we assess and promote the renunciation by certain States of their nuclear capability in exchange for development aid? How can the criteria of the just war be understood and applied in the current era? Which ethical and humanitarian principles, and which practical aspects, can encourage the achievement of a world without nuclear weapons? If the path towards a world free of nuclear weapons is gradual, which steps need to be taken in the right direction and when? 

+ Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo


P. Antoine Abi Ghanem, OLM
Msgr. Ettore Balestrero
Msgr. Michael W. Banach
Major General William F. Burns
Prof. Nicola Cabibbo
Prof. Francesco Calogero
Dr. Paolo Conversi
H.Em. Georges Card. Cottier, OP
Prof. Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista
Dr. Tommaso Di Ruzza
Dr. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi

Prof. Mariano Grondona
Dr. Olli Heinonen
Prof. Vittorio Hösle
H.E. Msgr. Dominique Mamberti
H.E. Msgr. Celestino Migliore
Prof. Mario J. Molina
Prof. Gerard F. Powers
Amb. Sergio de Queiroz Duarte
Prof. Carlo Rubbia
H.E. Msgr. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo
Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, CS
H.Em. Card. Peter K.A. Turkson


Nuclear Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Development

Study Day 10 February 2010 Scripta Varia 115 Vatican City, 2010 pp. 254 ISBN 978-88-7761-100-0 ... Read more