CHRISTMAS ISLAND – Speaking from Saint Peter’s Basilica this morning, Pope Francis announced the Vatican has carried out a series of successful nuclear tests off the coast of Christmas Island. Pope Francis said Vatican City’s modest army, known as the Pontifical Swiss Guard, detonated three thermonuclear warheads in a reef located one hundred miles south of the tropical island this week.
A spokesman for the Vatican, Father Federico Lombardi, said the tests were carried out by an elite unit within the Swiss Guard and added that the Catholic Church’s stance on nuclear disarmament remains the same. “The position of the Holy See is that these weapons must only be used as a deterrent against evil,” Father Lombardi said.
With a population of 842, Vatican City is the smallest internationally recognized city-state in the world. The Pontifical Swiss Guard, a small security force made up of Swiss army personnel, serves as the de facto military of Vatican City. The entire force consists of just over 110 soldiers and is primarily responsible for protecting the Pope and the Apostolic Palace.
The Vatican’s admission that it conducted a nuclear weapons test makes it the tenth nation to possess such weapons. As to exactly how many weapons the Vatican has in its possession, as well as where it is keeping them, remains a mystery. “Vatican City is only about one hundred and nine acres,” CNN Military Analyst Peter Mansoor said. “It’s hard to imagine they’d have room to store a warhead, let alone multiple ICBM platforms.”
It remains unclear as to how the Vatican and the Swiss Guard were able to produce a nuclear weapon in the first place, but experts, including Mansoor, believe the city-state may have had help. “They definitely had some sort of assistance. Whether it was logistical or financial or both, we may never know.”