Pope warns of nuclear terror threat

Pope Francis. (L’Osservatore Romano/ AP)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Pope warns of nuclear terror threat

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Friday renewed calls for global nuclear disarmament, warning that new technology had increased the risk of deadly weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
“You only have to note that nuclear technologies are spreading, partly because of digital communications, and the instruments of international law have not prevented new states from joining those already in possession of nuclear weapons,” Francis told a seminar at the Vatican.
“The resulting scenarios are deeply disturbing if we consider the challenges of contemporary geopolitics, like terrorism or asymmetric warfare.”
Francis was addressing a Vatican conference on disarmament that was attended by several Nobel peace prize winners and top UN and NATO officials, against the backdrop of tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.
Western powers are also increasingly concerned over the possibility of groups like Islamic State getting their hands on the technology that could allow them to manufacture an improvised nuclear device.
Describing the current international situation as marked by a “climate of instability and conflict,” the Argentine pontiff said the prospects for disarmament appeared “increasingly remote.”
“The escalation of the arms race continues unabated and the price of modernizing and developing weaponry, not only nuclear weapons, represents a considerable expense for nations.
“As a result, the real priorities facing our human family, such as the fight against poverty, the promotion of peace, the undertaking of educational, ecological and health care projects, and the development of human rights, are relegated to second place.”
Citing the memory of the victims and survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs at the end of World War II, Francis said any new use of such weapons would have “catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects.”
“If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned.
“Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security.”
Despite his overall gloomy tone, Francis said he was encouraged by a recent UN vote declaring the use of nuclear weapons illegal, even in warfare.


Version of PM May’s deal can get through parliament: Hunt

Updated 15 December 2018
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Version of PM May’s deal can get through parliament: Hunt

  • May pulled a vote on her deal this week after acknowledging it would be heavily defeated over concerns about the divorce agreement’s “backstop”

LONDON: Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday that the British parliament could back Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal if lawmakers received assurances from the European Union, but warned that a no deal Brexit was still on the table.
May pulled a vote on her deal this week after acknowledging it would be heavily defeated over concerns about the divorce agreement’s “backstop,” an insurance policy designed to avoid any hard land border for Ireland but which critics say could bind Britain to EU rules indefinitely.
“When the dust has settled, the only way we’re going to get this through the House of Commons ... is to have a version of the deal that the government has negotiated,” Hunt told BBC radio.
Following a summit in Brussels on Friday, May said it was possible that the EU could give further guarantees that the backstop would be temporary although the bloc’s other 27 leaders told her they would not renegotiate the treaty.
Hunt said the EU was likely to make concessions to avoid Britain leaving without any deal, a scenario that both sides say would be highly damaging for business and their economies.
“The EU cannot be sure that if they choose not to be helpful and flexible ... that we would not end up with no deal,” Hunt said. “We cannot in these negotiations take no deal off the table. I don’t think the EU could be remotely sure that if we don’t find a way through this we wouldn’t end up with no deal.”
The Times newspaper reported on Saturday that most of May’s senior ministerial team thought her deal was dead and were discussing a range of options including a second referendum.
“Brexit is in danger of getting stuck – and that is something that should worry us all,” pensions minister Amber Rudd wrote in the Daily Mail newspaper.
“If MPs (lawmakers) dig in against the Prime Minister’s deal and then hunker down in their different corners, none with a majority, the country will face serious trouble.”