ROME—Watching the continuing tension on the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea carrying out nuclear tests, a Vatican’s representative has expressed Pope Francis’s concerns to Vienna’s International Atomic Energy Agency.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said on Tuesday that he could confirm that, considering the “delicate situation on the Korean Peninsula,” the Vatican’s Undersecretary for Relations with States, Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, had reiterated in Vienna “the concern of the Holy Father and the Holy See about the continuing tensions in the area on account of the nuclear tests carried out by North Korea.”
Last Tuesday, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) had reported that North Korea had successfully conducted a ground test of a new type of high-powered rocket engine.
Camillieri was speaking as the Vatican representative in the 60th General Assembly of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEG), taking place in Vienna Sept. 26-30.
“We view the situation in the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] with grave concern,” Camillieri said in his remarks. “The Holy See supports continued efforts by the international community to revive negotiations over denuclearization and to enable the IAEA to resume its critical role in nuclear verification there.”
The Vatican representative also said the Church welcomes the IAEA’s participation in the “verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” adding that the Holy See sees this agreement positively.
Camillieri then said that in “a region where there are already too many conflicts” an agreement on such a sensitive issue is an important step that might promote dialogue.
“It is worth stating once again that the way towards resolving conflicts in the Middle East, which must be addressed at global and regional levels, is that of dialogue and negotiation, and not that of confrontation,” he said.
His statement also includes the Holy See’s reiterated appeal for the full application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, “in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons,” he said, quoting Francis’s address to the United Nations General Assembly last September.
“In order to respond adequately to the challenges of the twenty-first century, it is essential to replace fear and mistrust with an ethic of responsibility, and so foster a climate of trust which values multilateral dialogue,” he said.
Camillieri also praised the IAEA for fostering cooperation in the use of nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes and integral human development.
During his remarks, he spoke about five aspects of the agency’s work: nuclear safety and security; sustainable human development; the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization and nuclear disarmament; verification and monitoring regimes- where he spoke about North Korea and the Middle East; and an ethic for responsibility and cooperative security.
Talking about disarmament, he again quoted Francis, but this time from the pontiff’s message to the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in 2014, when the Argentine pope said that spending on these weapons squanders a country’s wealth.
“To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price,” the pope had said in the message Camillieri quoted on Tuesday.