Pope urges more nations to join U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons

Pope Francis conducts a Mass for the Feast of Epiphany in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, January 6, 2021. Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Wednesday urged more nations to join a U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons, saying their prohibition is badly needed to promote peace today.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons goes into effect on Friday and has been signed by 86 states, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

"I strongly encourage all states and all people to work with determination to promote the conditions necessary for a world without nuclear weapons, thus contributing to the advancement of peace and multilateral cooperation, which humanity needs so very much today," Francis said, mentioning the treaty during his weekly general audience.

The United States, Britain, France and other nuclear powers have not signed the treaty and boycotted talks that led to it.

During a visit in 2019 to Nagasaki, one of the only two cities hit by atomic bombs in history, Francis said the mere possession of nuclear weapons, even for the purpose of deterrence, was "perverse" and indefensible.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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