The Vatican has repeated its call to nations to close the door on nuclear weapons.
The appeal came from Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, at the 57th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (AIEA), held in Vienna earlier this week.
Referring to the 50th anniversary this year of the Papal Encyclical 'Pacem in Terris', he said the world needed to ask itself whether it was a safer place than a few decades ago.
"The Holy See shares the thoughts and sentiments of most men and women of good will who aspire to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Hence, we would like to use this opportunity to renew our call upon the leaders of nations to put an end to nuclear weapons production and to transfer nuclear material from military purpose to peaceful activities," he said.
Archbishop Mamberti went on to suggest that the "tragic" developments in the Middle East strengthened the humanitarian case against nuclear weapons.
He expressed the Holy See's "strong support" for efforts to free the Middle East of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.
"Nuclear-weapon-free zones are the best example of trust, confidence and affirmation that peace and security are possible without possessing nuclear weapons," he said.
He concluded his address by referring to recent negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme, and emphasised the Holy See's firm conviction that "the present difficulties can and must be overcome through diplomatic channels, making use of all the means that diplomacy has at its disposal, and considers it necessary to overcome the various obstacles which objectively impede mutual trust".