Toward a world free of nuclear weapons

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has long envisioned a world without nuclear weapons [PDF] .  Could it be that the nations of the world are beginning to live into that vision? Recent events bring us to another moment to contact President Obama and our Senators asking them to work for a world free of nuclear weapons.

On July 6, in Moscow, President Obama and Russian President Medvedev agreed on the basic terms of a treaty to reduce the number of warheads and missiles to the lowest levels since the early years of the cold war. Plans are to complete the new treaty by December. It would then be subject to ratification by the Senate. This could lead to further talks next year on more substantial reductions.

The New York Times reports that the “treaty would reduce the ceiling on strategic warheads to somewhere between 1,500 and 1,675 warheads within seven years, down from the current ceiling of 2,200 warheads by 2012. The limit on delivery vehicles — land-based intercontinental missiles, submarines-based missiles and bombers — would be somewhere from 500 to 1,100, down from the 1,600 currently allowed.”

Reactions to this step have been mixed. Some have applauded this as an important beginning. Others have criticized it for going too far. Yet others have criticized it for not going far enough.

Since 1946, the General Assembly, acting out of faith in Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace, has recognized that working for God's intended order and life abundant involves seeking international disarmament and arms control measures. In this effort, the General Assembly has opposed specific weapons programs and various measures that they believed stood in the way of disarmament and peace. At the same time, the General Assembly has advocated positive steps to control, reduce, and eliminate nuclear weapons. Always the General Assembly has understood that while eliminating nuclear weapons will not achieve the wholeness, well being, and justice of God's shalom, so doing is a crucial, necessary step in bringing God's shalom into being.

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