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Sunday, November 13, 2005

AP: Religious groups urged to lead fight against nuclear weapons

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara urged religious groups to lead the push for global nuclear disarmament.

McNamara called the spread of nuclear arms the world's greatest threat, and said the United States no longer needs its arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons.

"It's immoral, it's illegal, it's militarily unnecessary, it's very, very dangerous in terms of accidental usage," McNamara told a forum on nuclear perils Friday night at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville.

He said more religious groups need to do what the nation's Roman Catholic bishops did in 1983 - issue calls for nuclear disarmament.

"I can't think of anything more demanding of Christians than to rid the human race of this risk that, as the Catholics say, is the danger of extinction," he said.

McNamara, now 89, was defense secretary under Democratic Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. He and other speakers addressed a crowd of about 200 in an event that was part of the weeklong Festival of Faiths, which is sponsored by the Cathedral Heritage Foundation to promote interreligious understanding.

Panelists contended that the United States doesn't need nuclear weapons because the nation has adequate conventional weapons, the threat of a retaliatory strike is meaningless to suicide terrorists with no home country and the maintenance of the arsenal only encourages other nations to seek nuclear weapons.

Thomas Graham, who was President Clinton's special representative on nuclear arms control, said negotiating a worldwide elimination of nuclear arms would take years and require strict verification measures, but it would be worth it.

"Nothing good is ever impossible," he said.