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Vatican diplomat says peace 'just as fragile in 21st century'

Despite the fact that 188 countries have signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, "peace is just as fragile in this 21st century as it was in any century of the past," Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said.

Many of the pledges made to reduce or eliminate stockpiles of nuclear weapons and to stop making the weapons have not been kept, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told a UN meeting in Geneva.

The archbishop, who represents the Vatican at Geneva - based UN offices, spoke at the preparatory meeting for a 2005 international review of the nonproliferation treaty.

One of the main discussion points at the session was North Korea's January announcement that it would withdraw from the treaty. In addition, there is international debate over weapons inspections programs and about the obligation of treaty signers to file reports on their nuclear capabilities.

Archbishop Martin told the session that the Vatican supports strengthening the treaty to "include effective reporting, verification procedures, mechanisms to combat cheating and an enforceable rule of law."

Catholic News Service

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5 May 2003