The Russian Orthodox Church is concerned about the policy of "double standards" that the USA is pursuing in relation to Iraq and the threat of military operations being launched in the region.
In a RIA Novosti interview on Tuesday, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarch's Department for External Church Ties, Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Kirill, expressed the hope that the numerous appeals made by religious leaders all over the world would be heeded and war in Iraq avoided.
"Double standards should be avoided," he stressed. "Why, for example, do a few countries, not part of the 'nuclear five', but who officially or semi-officially possess nuclear weapons, enjoy the support of the USA, while Iraq, which is only 'suspected,' is suffering from many years of an economic blockade and sanctions that have put even the lives and health of innocent children in danger?" "We share the concern of the international community about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," the metropolitan continued. "However," he said, "the weapons in the hands of the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center were not nuclear warheads, not chemical or biological weapons, but the controls of passenger planes." Metropolitan Kirill is deeply convinced that the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction can only be overcome "through peaceful diplomatic means, in accordance with international law and the decision of the UN Security Council." According to him, armed conflict leaves the peaceful population suffering even when pin-point strikes are applied. The Russian Orthodox Church spokesman said that Nato's recent bombing raids against Yugoslavia "only confirm the seriousness of this danger." He stressed that war in Iraq would lead to a blast wave across the world, rocking the economic systems of dozens of countries sensitive to changes in the price of oil.
Moreover, the metropolitan said that the possibility of a military strike against Iraq had already caused a negative reaction in the Arab world that would only grow if large-scale combat operations were to commence and could turn into a powerful upsurge in violence not limited to Arab countries.