Pope Francis ‘concerned’ about North Korea nukes

Pope Francis. © Stefano Rellandini
The Pope has expressed concern over instability on the Korean Peninsula and the possible impact ongoing North Korean nuclear tests could have on the world.

“We view the situation in the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] with grave concern,” the Vatican’s Undersecretary for Relations with States, Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, told delegates at the 60th General Assembly of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Pope, Camilleri said, supports the efforts of the international community to “revive negotiations over denuclearization” on the Korea Peninsula as Monsignor called on the IAEA to resume its “critical” role in the verification of North Korean disarmament.

Pope Francis’ representative said that any arms race tends to divert the country’s economic resources away from the poor, circumventing the government’s responsibility to increase living standards.

“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,” Camilleri noted.

North Korea’s fifth nuclear test on September 9 was universally condemned and prompted the United States, Japan, and South Korea to call for tougher sanctions at the UN Security Council. While world powers call on Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table, the North is refusing to accept the invitation and instead has shown its willingness to pursue its nuclear ambitions. Along with nuclear tests, the North has continues to showcase delivery method technologies, having launched rockets on more than 10 occasions this year.

This is not the first time Pope Francis has spoken out against nuclear weapons. Last year, as the world commemorated the 70th anniversary of America’s use of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the pontiff called for the full prohibition on nuclear weapons.

The Pope at the time said that the attacks are a symbol of people misusing scientific and technical progress and the “enormous power of humanity.”

“[The US bombing] serves as a lasting warning to humanity so that it rejects forever war and bans nuclear weapons and all arms of mass destruction,” the Pope said.