By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
At the end of last month, the U.S. government claimed that Russia is violating what the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists calls the “only remaining arms control treaty between the United States and Russia.” Just days earlier, the Social Justice Commission of St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville sponsored an offering of “Postcards for Peace,” seeking the prohibition of nuclear weapons.
Some 200 parishioners of all ages completed the postcards after weekend Masses Jan. 28-29 at St. Thomas More. Their postcards are on the way to President Joe Biden and Iowa’s congressional delegation, asking them to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), said Linda Myers, who chairs the parish’s Social Justice Commission.
“The commission used Archbishop John C. Wester’s pastoral letter titled, ‘Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace,’ as a blueprint for our offering of postcards,” Myers said. Parishioners were asked to pray for world peace, study Archbishop Wester’s pastoral letter and act for peace by signing and sending a postcard, which parishioner Jo Myers-Walker designed.
Myers said the TPNW “puts nuclear weapons in the same category as land mines, cluster munitions, chemical and biological weapons and poison gas.” The United Nations approved the TPNW with the support of 122 nations — the U.S. is not among them — and had to be ratified by at least 50 nations to enter force.
“As of January 22, 2021, the TPNW is in force. It is the first legally binding multilateral agreement to ban nuclear weapons. None of the states who possess nuclear weapons, including the United States has signed on to this treaty,” Myers said.
Meanwhile, the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, also known as the New START Treaty, is in force through Feb. 4, 2026 (U.S. State Department).
However, on Jan. 31, CNN quoted a statement from a U.S. State Department spokesperson that “Russia is not complying with its obligation under the New START Treaty to facilitate inspection activities on its territories.” That lack of compliance “prevents the United States from exercising important rights under the treaty and threatens the viability of U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control” (https://tinyurl.com/dffymc4c).
There has been progress in “bringing down the number of nuclear weapons in the world from 60,000 in 1986 to 13,000 today,” said Evalee Mickey of St. Thomas More’s Social Justice Commission. The U.S. and Russia hold most of those weapons, she added. However, “the stockpile is increasing, especially with our country embarking on a $1.2 trillion overhaul over the next 30 years.”
Mickey observed, “On the 77th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bomb attack of Japan, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres was in Hiroshima and asked, ‘What have we learned from the mushroom cloud that swelled above this city? Humanity is playing with a loaded gun. Nuclear weapons are nonsense. They guarantee no safety, only death and destruction.’”
“We continue to pray for universal peace, an end to the war in Ukraine and the abolition of nuclear weapons,” Myers said.