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UK News

Faith leaders celebrate new UN anti-nuclear treaty, urge UK join

by Tola Mbakwe

Church leaders have praised a new international treaty that came into effect on Friday as a major step toward a more peaceful world. 

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is supported by the UN General Assembly. To date, it's been ratified by 51 states.

Each country commits to "never under any circumstances to develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices". They also promise never to "assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Treaty".

Steve Hucklesby from the Joint Public Issues Team, which works with church denominations on policy issues, told Premier the treaty is noteworthy. 

"It's the most significant treaty around nuclear weapons that we've had for some decades," he said.  
"It's come about it's a result of a many new non-nuclear weapon States dissatisfied with the progress being made under the non-proliferation treaty."

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons' goal was to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. 

Various church leaders including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Pope Francis, leaders from the Church of Scotland, Methodist Church and United Reform Church have all welcomed TPNW. 

Pope Francis said: "This is the first legally binding international instrument explicitly prohibiting these weapons, whose indiscriminate use would impact a huge number of people in a short time and would cause long-lasting damage to the environment.

"I strongly encourage all States and all people to work decisively toward promoting conditions necessary for a world without nuclear weapons, contributing to the advancement of peace and multilateral cooperation which humanity greatly needs today."

Hucklesby told Premier the treaty has the backing of many church leaders because it promotes Christian values. 

"The idea that you can threaten to kill hundreds of thousands of people with a single strike, that seems to me to be unconscionable. It's not only a denial of the dignity of human life, but it's also in my view, a denial of the creator. And in the Christian tradition, we also describe God as the author of peace."

The world's leading countries like the UK, US, France and Russia have refused to sign the treaty, despite many called from Church leaders to do so.

Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, Convener of the Faith Impact Forum of the Church of Scotland, said: "We call on the UK Government to pursue constructive dialogue with the many governments who support this treaty, and to strive for a just and genuine peace."

Hucklesby said there are a few ways people can urge the UK Government to reconsider. 

"We can write to our MPs and we can ask the UK Government to engage with States that are supporting this treaty. One really practical way that we can support is through right writing to our own banks, and pension providers that invest money on our behalf."

Click here to support the cause. 

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has welcomed US President Joe Biden's proposal to extend the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the two countries, which is set to expire in less than two weeks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia supports extending the pact and is waiting to see details of the US proposal.

The White House said on Thursday that Mr Biden has proposed to Russia a five-year extension of the New Start treaty.

The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads. It expires on 5th February.

Listen to Premier's interview with Steve Hucklesby here: 

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