Pope Francis, in Nagasaki, urges world leaders to renounce nukes

Tokyo: Pope Francis on Sunday strongly condemned the use of nuclear weapons and an increase in global arms trade as he paid tribute to the victims of the atomic bomb attack in Nagasaki.

The Pope also called on world leaders to instead use money and resources to cope with environmental issues and poverty that affect millions of people worldwide who are “living in inhumane conditions”, The Japan Times reported.

“Peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation,” the Pope told scores of people who had gathered to hear him speak amid a light rain at the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park, Ground Zero of the second of the two atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan by the United States in 1945.

“In a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, the money that is squandered and the fortunes made through the manufacture, upgrading, maintenance and sale of ever more destructive weapons, are an affront crying out to heaven,” the Pope was quoted as saying.

Later in the day, the 82-year-old Argentine, who is currently on a four-day visit to the Asian country, also visited Hiroshima where he delivered another speech denouncing the use of nuclear weapons.

The Pope also paid tribute to the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing, which is believed to have killed some 140,000 locals by the end of the same year. The city’s population was estimated at 350,000 at the time.

“Here, in an incandescent burst of lightning and fire, so many men and women, so many dreams and hopes, disappeared, leaving behind only shadows and silence,” the Pope said during a gathering at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

The Pope’s remarks came amid rising concerns over a new nuclear arms race between the United States and Russia, as President Donald Trump officially announced the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) in February, which was immediately followed by Moscow.

The INF, which was originally concluded by the US and Soviet Union in 1987 to slow the nuclear arms race, collapsed in August.

In addition, North Korea’s ongoing nuclear weapons development program is also a source of serious concern for Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will have a brief meeting with the pope in Tokyo on Monday and is expected to discuss Pyongyang-related issues with him there.

Japan, the only nation to have ever been attacked with atomic bombs, has called for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons but still relies on the nuclear umbrella provided by the US.

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