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North Korean government's test of a nuclear device

Letter to the WCC member churches, regional ecumenical organizations, national councils of churches and CCIA Commission

27 November 2006

Letter to the WCC member churches, regional ecumenical organizations, national councils
of churches and CCIA Commission

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

On 9 October, 2006, North Korea conducted a test of a relatively small nuclear
device, but its consequences are extremely serious and far-reaching. Suddenly
many more people around the world are aware of the growing threat of nuclear
proliferation. This act highlights the failure of certain governments to meet their
obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), including the
promise by the nuclear-weapons states in 2000 of an "unequivocal undertaking
to accomplish the total elimination of [their] nuclear arsenals". The sanctions
imposed by the UN Security Council are an important action against one government,
but action by the whole international community is needed to put
nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation firmly back on track, as the WCC
General Secretary noted in a letter to the nuclear-weapons states the day of the
North Korea test.

Since its beginnings, the World Council of Churches at the international level
has advocated the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, with full verification
to ensure that arms are destroyed and not multiplied. WCC governing
bodies recommend that member churches become advocates for nuclear disarmament
at the national level as well. In a nuclear world, the decisions made by our
governments affect the safety and well-being of every person on the planet.

Recent events provide further impetus for us all to follow up on the "Minute
on the Elimination of Nuclear Arms" adopted by the churches at the WCC General
Assembly earlier this year. The Minute asks member churches to raise awareness
amongst their congregations of the ongoing danger of nuclear arms and particularly
to attune the younger generations to the unthinkable consequences of nuclear
warfare. It also encourages churches to communicate with their government, asking
leaders to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons internationally and
affirming their government if it has decided to abstain from developing a nuclear
weapons capability. Lastly, the WCC Minute asks churches to support the Nuclear
Weapons Free Zones that have been established by many regions and even by city
governments, which are a form of arms control accessible to many people and a
sign of hope amid chronic failure at the international level.

Here at the World Council of Churches secretariat, we would like to help member
churches or other offices following up the WCC Assembly action. This includes
providing a sample letter to adapt and send to your government should you request
it from us. It would urge your government, large or small, to take collective
responsibility with other states for the enforcement of international nuclear disarmament
mechanisms and to pursue the complete elimination of nuclear weapons
under the terms of the NPT.

Attached please find a copy of the "Minute on the Elimination of Nuclear
Arms" from the 9th WCC Assembly as a resource for action. Please also inform
us about other forms of follow-up you decide upon to bear witness on this pressing
issue. Thank you for your attention.

With our renewed prayers for peace,

Clement John
Acting Director