by WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia

Geneva, 25 May 2009

The World Council of Churches is deeply troubled by North Korea's nuclear test and profoundly concerned for the people of North Korea and surrounding countries, none of whose interests are served by this tragic failure of international relations.

The WCC is concerned that the North Korean government and the leaders of the international community not only solve this crisis peacefully now but also urgently resolve the far-reaching problems such a test reveals. In this context we express our concern for the future of the Six-Party Talks.

Member churches of the World Council of Churches in every region of the world have consistently condemned nuclear weapons as a sin against God and humankind. Creating nuclear armaments is deadly abuse of human potential and a lethal misuse of God-given resources.

Ten days ago at the United Nations, five nuclear powers and nearly 200 non-nuclear states concluded a remarkably positive meeting on the world's most important arms control treaty, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Many of the governments present are now speaking of cooperation to move the world beyond the nuclear threats and instabilities that developed during and since the Cold War. It is unfortunate that North Korea was not there; neither were Pakistan, India or Israel. As the governing bodies of the WCC and many other international bodies have repeatedly stressed, all states need to join in negotiating and achieving the elimination of nuclear weapons.

There is no place for nuclear arsenals in international affairs – whether by a country like North Korea or by the eight other self-appointed nuclear powers that would have others believe their security requires weapons of mass destruction.

The international community has just begun to re-kindle the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. We especially appreciate the leadership on this question by the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon, who calls nuclear weapons a "global public good of the highest order". It is our hope and prayer that – in the Korean peninsula and globally – governments and civil society including faith-based groups will work resolutely to make this widely welcomed vision a reality.