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Archbishop John R. Roach
Chairman, USCC Committee on International Policy
January 5, 1992
The Start II agreement marks a major step in the process of progressive nuclear disarmament. This landmark agreement will dramatically cut long-range nuclear weapons to one-third their current numbers, and would eliminate altogether the most-threatening land-based missiles. In doing so, it addresses a two-fold moral challenge: (1) eliminating weapons that increase the risk of nuclear war, and (2) taking steps to reduce our reliance on nuclear arms. We hope that the parties to this agreement and its predecessor, START I, will ratify and implement promptly these treaties, so that the process of reducing nuclear arms and curbing their proliferation may lead to genuine nuclear disarmament.
Ten years ago, when we issued our pastoral on war and peace, The Challenge of Peace, the reductions called for in this agreement were but a distant hope. That the deep cuts that then seemed unimaginable now seem almost routine should lead us, not to a sense of complacency about the nuclear threat, but to a new determination to pursue further reductions in nuclear arms and a firmer basis for a lasting peace.
This goal would be facilitated by more effective controls on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, serious pursuit of a comprehensive test ban, restraints on conventional arms transfers, and deep reductions in military forces of all kinds around the world.
These steps must be part of the larger and more important process of continued political change that will ensure that the Cold War and Cold War armaments remain relics of an unhappy past. The United States, alone, cannot guarantee a more stable and just post-Cold War world, but it will play a major role. We have a rare, and likely fleeting, opportunity to help strengthen peace-keeping and peace-making institutions and to do much more to encourage the development of just social, economic and political systems in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. We will realize the full moral promise of START II only with a commitment to these continuing challenges.
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