New York, 16 May 2005 -- A World Council of Churches delegation begins work today at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at United Nations headquarters. Members will meet with diplomats from key countries at the 189-nation gathering to discuss prospects for the treaty in the light of WCC policy on nuclear weapons.

The 35-year-old NPT is the cornerstone of global disarmament agreements but this five-year review conference began without agreement on an agenda and with the treaty itself in severe difficulty. A political impasse has developed in recent years over how to apply the basic treaty provisions today—stopping proliferation and pursuing disarmament while ensuring adequate verification in both areas and allowing the peaceful uses of nuclear power. The Cold War bargain behind the NPT—dividing nations between nuclear “haves” and “have-nots” with limits on each group—has partly collapsed.

WCC policy statements stress the responsibility of all States in strengthening the treaty through stopping, reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons. The WCC delegation will sponsor forums on nuclear doctrine at the United Nations and at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Manhattan on May 18. The church event will begin with the celebration of a litany for peace in the world.

Delegation members include Church of England Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Tom Butler, Executive Director of the Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy in Washington, DC, Rev. Barbara Green, Representative of the Moscow Patriarchate in the US, Fr. Alexander Abramov, plus two executives from the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the WCC. Their work in New York will last five days.