Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Anti-Nuclear Group With WMass Ties

Violet Powell
October 8, 2017

The Nobel committee recognized the group's work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.... and its efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition on them.

In Japan, the only country to suffer an atomic bombing in the closing days of World War II, this year's Nobel Peace Prize resonated with many.

Separately, Trump plans to "decertify" Iran's compliance with an worldwide agreement that limits its nuclear program, a step that European allies worry could lead to nuclear proliferation.

This past week, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to end the 2015 Iran nuclear deal accusing Tehran of failing to live up to the "spirit of the agreement".

The Geneva-based organization, which has drawn support from Nigeria to Australia, made headlines this year when it spearheaded a United Nations effort to ban nuclear weapons.

The group's executive director, Beatrice Fihn, had been contacted by the Norwegian Nobel Committee 10 minutes before the official announcement.

As part of its work to push for the nuclear prohibition treaty, ICAN launched in 2012 the campaign "Don't Bank on the Bomb", pushing for divestment from hundreds of banks, pension funds and insurance companies with investments in companies producing nuclear arms.

It was a key player in the adoption of a historic nuclear weapons ban treaty, signed by 122 countries at the United Nations in July.

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Pyongyang's series of nuclear and weapons tests this year has shaken the global security order.

And the reason I say that is that this treaty, first of all, once it enters into force in the next year or two, it's going to exert a lot of pressure on countries that are allies of the United States, particularly in Europe and also in the Pacific, to say, we - their publics are already saying you should join this treaty.

She said the U.S. leader appeared to have a track record of "not listening to expertise", and insisted his supervision of a massive nuclear arsenal "just puts a spotlight" on the dangers of such weapons.

But Washington reiterated Friday that it had no intention of signing the treaty, even though it remained committed to "creating the conditions for nuclear disarmament".

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was agreed on by 122 countries at United Nations headquarters July 7. Under the accord, Iran pledged never to "seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons" and said it was pursuing an "exclusively peaceful" nuclear energy program. This award shines a needed light on the path the ban treaty provides towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

In fact, in addition to not signing the treaty, as the New York Times reported, the United States and other nuclear powers boycotted the negotiations leading up to the treaty and persuaded many of their allies to do the same, and some of the nuclear powers "denounced the treaty as a naïve and risky diversion". The award was hailed by anti-nuclear campaigners around the world. The committee may have been reluctant to reward the Iranian government for its role in the nuclear deal because the only Iranian victor so far, 2003 laureate Shirin Ebadi, a lawyer and human rights campaigner, is forced to live in exile.

"This is a time of great global tension, when fiery rhetoric could all too easily lead us, inexorably, to unspeakable horror", ICAN said on Friday.

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