Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 22, 2004
Church leaders say 'no' to ballistic missile system
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Twenty Canadian church leaders including Archbishop Brendan O'Brien, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, say strategic ballistic missile defence (BMD) systems "can never satisfy the deep human yearning for immunity from nuclear terror."
In a letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin March 15, the leaders said proposed security solutions like BMD "fail to counter the nuclear threat and precipitate further insecurities."
After years of consultations, the federal government is involved in talks with the United States on possible Canadian participation in BMD. Ottawa believes it is important to examine possible BMD participation to enhance Canadian security. The United States government announced in 2002 that it intends to deploy an initial BMD system this fall. The Canadian government is to make a decision on participation when the discussions are complete.
But in their letter, issued through the Canadian Council of Churches, the Church leaders say Russia and China are moving to counter any defensive capabilities that the proposed BMD system might one day deliver. As well, the U.S. continues to develop new nuclear weapon designs and threatens to resume nuclear testing, they said. "This sets the stage for a dangerous and cyclical defence-versus-offence dynamic in the strategic environment. We deplore the ongoing militarization of relationships and continuing nuclear arms competition this entails."
The Pentagon itself lacks confidence that the ground-based, mid-course interception system that Canada is considering supporting can ever be made to work, said the letter. "And so it pursues a space-based element that violates an overwhelming global consensus against the weaponization of space."
Not God's plan
Canadians churches have told successive Canadian prime ministers that "the possession, use, or threat to use nuclear weapons can never be understood to be within God's plan for creation," the letter stated. "The extraordinary squandering of resources in the vain pursuit of technological immunity from nuclear weapons, especially while new weapons and new nuclear use strategies are still being introduced, is itself an offence against the will of the Creator."
Instead of developing such systems, the reallocation of "the billions now squandered on strategic ballistic missile defence could achieve works of wonder to the benefit and sustainable security of all humanity," the Church leaders said.
Project Ploughshares, the Canadian ecumenical disarmament group, also voiced its concerns about BMD in a letter to the PM. Project Ploughshares spokesperson Ernie Regehr noted that a year earlier the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade advised the government not to make any decision on BMD because "the technology has not been proven and details of deployment are not known."
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