By Bishop John Wester and Bishop Scott Hayashi
As religious leaders in Utah, we have been entrusted by our faith communities to address the issues of peace and justice. For this reason, we have recently joined with 10 of our colleagues in petitioning U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee to support ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
In these perilous times, it is imperative that our leaders work together to safeguard the future of humanity. Even though the Cold War is over, the threat of a nuclear catastrophe looms large. Our denominations join a diverse group of former policymakers, technical experts, academics and other religious leaders in calling for a world free of nuclear weapons. The ratification and entry into force of the CTBT is one important step in curbing the development and stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
On Jan. 27, 1951, the Nevada Test Site went into operation by exploding an atomic bomb. Nuclear testing resulted in a terrifying arms race as well as having a devastating effect on the environment and those exposed to the radioactive fallout, especially here in Utah.
After long negotiations, the United States was the first country to sign the CTBT in 1996 and has had a moratorium on nuclear weapons testing in place since 1992. Once put into force, the CTBT will make permanent the testing moratorium already observed by a majority of nuclear states and will apply added pressure on other states to refrain from nuclear testing.
To date, the CTBT has been signed by 182 countries and ratified by 155, including Russia and all NATO members except the United States.
Twelve years ago, the Senate considered the CTBT but withheld support. Since that time, the concerns expressed by the Senate have all been addressed. The United States can maintain the reliability of its nuclear deterrent without resuming testing. The international verification regime now has the ability to adequately monitor compliance with the treaty and to restrict further proliferation of nuclear weapons technology. Given all the dramatic changes in the world since the Senate last considered the CTBT, the time has come for the Senate to act.
We believe that in addition to our national security interests, the United States has a moral responsibility to ensure that humanity and God’s creation are made safe from the terrible specter of nuclear weapons. We encourage all people of good will to join us in urging the Senate, and particularly our Utah senators, to give their advice and consent to the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
John Wester is the Catholic bishop of Salt Lake City. Scott Hayashi is the Episcopal bishop of Utah.