The prospect of permitting Iran to develop nuclear weapons is unacceptable, according to US Catholic Bishops, but in the absence an immediate threat, America and other nations must be fully committed to pursuing a diplomatic solution to the present confrontation. This was the message delivered by letter last Friday, to US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice from Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida, on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The bishops were reacting to escalating rhetoric and news accounts speculating about a potential preemptive use of force against Iran to deter further possible nuclear weapons ambitions. "From a moral perspective," Bishop Wenski wrote, "in the absence of an immediate threat military action would constitute an act of preventative war." The Catholic Church, he noted, teaches that "engaging in a preventative war without clear proof that an attack is imminent cannot fail to raise serious moral and juridical questions." The bishops make clear their assessment that the Iranian situation does not presently constitute an immediate threat. Before military action could be considered, according to the bishops, all non-military alternatives must be exhausted. Options, they suggest, range from diplomatic and economic incentives, increased international involvement and cooperation, to economic sanctions. The bishops also called on the nation's leaders to change the United States' current nuclear posture to ensure that nuclear weapons are not used against non-nuclear threats and appealed for greater, more sustained progress toward nuclear disarmament in the spirit of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The full text of the letter is available at: http://www.usccb.org
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