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"Forget the Rest" blog


Press Advisory, September 25, 2015, 10:50 am MDT

Pope Francis denounces nuclear deterrence and calls for prohibition of nuclear weapons

We urge you to please see this morning's press release from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which reads:

In a historic speech before the United Nations General Assembly Pope Francis called for the ‘complete prohibition’ of nuclear weapons, and condemned the doctrine of deterrence as ‘an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations’. He encouraged the international community to work to fulfil both the letter and the spirit of the Non Proliferation Treaty which demands complete disarmament.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)welcomes Pope Francis’ call and believes that the moral and humanitarian arguments underpinning his speech should inspire governments to start negotiations of a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

“Nuclear weapons are immoral, unethical and unacceptable weapons”,  says Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN, ”governments should respond to the call of the Pope and start negotiating a new legal instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons”.

In recent years, support for negotiating a new treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons has grown. At present, 117 states have joined the so-called Humanitarian Pledge which commits the signatories to work for the ‘prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons’.

At the upcoming UN General Assembly session, these states have an opportunity to start negotiations for a universal prohibition of nuclear weapons, putting them on the same footing of other weapons of mass destruction.

Full text of Pope's speech at the UN, with video, here

It is important to distinguish calls to gradually eliminate nuclear weapons, which are commonplace -- and frequently meaningless -- from today's statement from Pope Francis, which called for the "complete prohibition" of nuclear weapons and explicitly condemned the doctrine of nuclear deterrence in the strongest possible terms. 

The Pope's call is not an isolated, quixotic gesture but rather occurs in the context of a vibrant global movement to ban nuclear weapons, now supported by a majority of countries' foreign ministries. 

The Los Alamos Study Group is a very active partner in the ICAN network.  In addition, our leadership committee overlaps with that of ICAN via the Women's International League of Peace and Freedom(WILPF). 

Selected recent background on efforts to "prohibit" nuclear weapons, from the Study Group:


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