Originally issued September 5, 2010.

Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement, calls on the US Senate to ratify the New START Treaty negotiated between the Russian Republic and the United States last Spring. Pax Christi USA notes that since the expiration of the START II Treaty last year, no agreement currently exists between the two largest nuclear weapons states to limit and reduce their vast arsenals of these most dangerous weapons. Ratification and entry into force of New START will further reduce the bloated arsenals of both states and usher in an important resumption of verification measures which expired with START II.

For nearly twenty years, since START II entered into force, there has been virtually no dialogue with the Russian Republic regarding vital nuclear disarmament measures to which both states are obligated under the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The New START Treaty is an important step in reengaging both nuclear weapons states in critical measures to reduce the threat of nuclear catastrophe as well as set a direction for further reductions and effective verification measures.

As a Catholic organization working tirelessly for nuclear disarmament for nearly 40 years, we echo the recent statements of support from Catholic leaders including Cardinal George, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, who said:

“Based on a moral imperative to rid the world of nuclear weapons, the Conference of Bishops will be a steadfast supporter of strong and bipartisan action on the New START Treaty as an important and essential step toward a nuclear weapons free future.”

Pax Christi USA is committed to engaging our vast network of clergy, religious and lay members and our more than 400 local chapters to urge our Senators to support this essential step. The vision that President Obama set forth in Prague for a world freed from the nuclear threat is one Pax Christi has consistently supported and one to which we remain deeply committed. As the Holy See has repeatedly stated, “Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the peace we seek for the 21st Century.” We urge the US Senate to achieve ratification of this critical Treaty this year.

While the New START Treaty offers a welcome move in the direction of smaller Russian and US arsenals, Pax Christi USA is deeply concerned over efforts to add conditions to the Treaty which would dramatically increase overall spending and investment in the nuclear weapons complex. Pax Christi USA unequivocally opposes these proposed spending increases. The time has come to end our indefinite reliance on nuclear deterrence. As the Vatican has clearly stated: “The Holy See has never countenanced nuclear deterrence as a permanent measure, nor does it today when it is evident that nuclear deterrence drives the development of ever newer nuclear arms, thus preventing genuine nuclear disarmament.” Increasing investments in nuclear weapons design, production and delivery vehicles sends the exact wrong message to would-be proliferators as well as the other nuclear weapons states that need to be included in future reduction talks. It is time for a clean break from our reliance on nuclear weapons and Pax Christi USA urges the U.S. Senate to adopt the Treaty without conditions that would, as the Vatican has stated, prevent “genuine nuclear disarmament.”

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