Nobel Prize

Peace Prize winners issue nuclear warning about North Korea crisis

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 December, 2017, 11:11pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 December, 2017, 11:26pm

The winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), on Sunday voiced alarm about an “extremely dangerous situation” in North Korea before receiving the award in Oslo.

“We are seeing right now an extremely dangerous situation that makes a lot of people very uncomfortable,” ICAN head Beatrice Fihn said before the Nobel ceremony. “But if you are worried about Donald Trump having nuclear weapons or Kim Jong-un, you’re probably worried about nuclear weapons because you are recognising that deterrents are not always going to work.”

The US and North Korean leaders “are just humans who have the control to end the world, nobody should have that”, she said.

Speaking at the ceremony, Fihn asked: “Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us?”

Pyongyang has in recent months increased its number of missiles and nuclear tests, while exchanging warlike threats with Trump, who has ordered a military show of force.

ICAN, a coalition of hundreds of NGOs around the world, has worked for a treaty banning nuclear weapons, adopted in July by 122 countries.

Although historic, the text was weakened by the absence of the nine nuclear powers among the signatories.

Only three countries, the Holy See, Guyana and Thailand, have so far ratified the treaty, which requires 50 ratifications to come into force.

In an apparent snub of the ICAN-backed treaty, the three western nuclear powers – the US, France and Britain – will be represented by second-ranking diplomats rather than by their ambassadors at the ceremony, in a break with tradition.

But several survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings, which killed more than 220,000 people 72 years ago, attended the event in Oslo City Hall.

Although the number of nuclear weapons has dropped since the end of the cold war, there are still around 15,000 atomic bombs on Earth with more nations getting hold of them.

Earlier, Pope Francis called on world leaders to work in favour of nuclear disarmament.

The pontiff said that there was a need to “work with determination to build a world without nuclear weapons”, speaking from the window of the papal flat overlooking St Peter’s Square and citing his 2015 encyclical letter Laudato Si (Praised Be).

Pope Francis added that men and women in the world had “the liberty, the intelligence and the capacity to guide technology, limit their power, at the service of peace and true progress”.

The Nobel Prizes in literature, physics, chemistry, medicine and economics, were awarded at a separate ceremony in Stockholm.

Each prize consists of a diploma, a gold medal and a cheque for 9 million Swedish kroner (US$1.06 million)

Agence France-Presse, Reuters