1998 NCC News Archives

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Statement on Nuclear Testing by India and Pakistan

Issued by:
Bishop Craig B. Anderson, President, National Council of Churches
The Rev. Dr. Joan B. Campbell, General Secretary, National Council of Churches
June 12, 1998

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCCUSA) recognizes that our own nation, the United States, as the largest nuclear power, has not yet ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty signed by 149 nations and already ratified by Britain and France. At the same time the NCCC is profoundly concerned about the emerging nuclear arms race in Asia and is deeply distressed by the unexpected decision in May, first by India and then by Pakistan, to test nuclear weapons. They have renewed the prospects for a continued nuclear arms race at the very time that efforts for a Comprehensive Test Ban seemed within reach. They have raised the stakes in any future confrontation between India and Pakistan, whose brief history of relationships is already marked by three wars and ongoing hostility. They have increased tensions in a subcontinent already ravaged by recent wars in neighboring countries.

These events point to the urgency on the global level to develop binding agreements on nuclear, chemical, biological and conventional armaments, seeking restraint on development, production, sale and transfer, so that the existence and trafficking of such weapons does not become a stimulus for tension and conflict. They also point to the necessity of developing alternate security systems and effective means of conflict resolution.

The NCCC urgently calls upon the United States Senate to ratify the treaty, thus giving credibility to U.S. condemnation of India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear Commitment by the United States to that treaty may provide strong incentive to other nations to do the same. Especially now, the United States must be clear in its own commitments to honor the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by stopping its own research and development of nuclear weapons as required by that treaty, and to bring into force the long delayed ban on all forms of nuclear testing.

The alarming action of India and Pakistan and the disturbing lack of the ratification of the Test Ban Treaty by the United States make it imperative for the NCCC to assert again its long-standing opposition to both the development and use of nuclear weapons throughout the world. The NCCC has expressed concern in earlier resolutions about the global arms race, its cost in human, economic and environmental terms, the tragedies involved in the numerous local and regional wars that are fed by the arms race and the risk of a destructive nuclear confrontation which may well reach global proportions. In faithfulness to its Christian convictions, the NCCC has consistently affirmed that all life and all of the earth’s resources are gifts of God and that all nations are mandated to preserve and enhance God’s creation, not to abuse and destroy it.

The NCCC has declared that a major concern must be to eliminate war as a means of obtaining security. We are deeply saddened that India, which shared with the world the committed non-violent leadership of Mohandas K. Gandhi should choose the way of nuclear weapons. India’s witness to its non-violent principles has played a vital role in influencing world peace in the last half of this century. India’s nuclear tests now weaken the example India had set for other nations and could easily lead to more tragic mistakes which we had hoped the world would leave behind..

Pakistan’s response to India with its own nuclear testing demonstrates that the vaunting of nuclear power by any country intensifies the arms race and its accompanying economic impoverishment of nations and threat of potential destruction. Pakistan’s response reminds the world that nations lack confidence in other forms of security. Therefore the NCCC urges all countries, including the USA, to participate fully in developing common security and non-violent processes of conflict resolution through the United Nations to ensure a just peace for every country and peoples.

-end-

Policy basis:

Policy Statement adopted by General Board Sept. 12, 1968: "Defense and
Disarmament: New Requirements for Security." Updated November, 1977.

Policy Statement adopted by Governing Board June 2, 1960: :
"Toward a Family of Nations Under God - Agenda of Action for Peace."

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