Peace prize win a sur­prise

No­bel nod for anti-nuke group

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

OSLO: THE Nor­we­gian No­bel Com­mit­tee, warn­ing of the ris­ing risk of nu­clear war and the spread of weapons to North Korea, has awarded the 2017 No­bel Peace Prize to a lit­tle­known group seek­ing a global ban on nu­clear arms.

Yes­ter­day’s award for the In­ter­na­tional Cam­paign to Abol­ish Nu­clear Weapons (Ican) was un­ex­pected, par­tic­u­larly in a year when the ar­chi­tects of the 2015 nu­clear deal be­tween in­ter­na­tional pow­ers and Iran had been seen as favourites for achiev­ing the sort of diplo­matic break­through that has won the prize in the past.

Still, sup­port­ers saw it as a po­ten­tial break­through for a global move­ment that has fought to ban nu­clear arms from the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on the Ja­panese city of Hiroshima in Au­gust 1945.

Ican ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Beatrice Fihn said the group was elated.

Asked if she had a mes­sage for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, who has tested nu­clear arms in de­fi­ance of global pres­sure, and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who has threat­ened to “to­tally de­stroy” North Korea to pro­tect the US and its al­lies, she said both lead­ers needed to know the weapons were il­le­gal.

“Nu­clear weapons are il­le­gal. Threat­en­ing to use nu­clear weapons is il­le­gal. Hav­ing nu­clear weapons, pos­sess­ing nu­clear weapons, de­vel­op­ing nu­clear weapons, is il­le­gal, and they need to stop.”

Fihn said Trump’s im­pul­sive char­ac­ter il­lus­trated the im­por­tance of ban­ning nu­clear arms for all coun­tries.

“A man you can bait with a tweet seems to be tak­ing ir­ra­tional de­ci­sions very quickly and not lis­ten­ing to ex­per­tise; it just puts a spot­light on what do nu­clear weapons re­ally mean. There are no right hands for the wrong weapons,” she said.

Ican de­scribes it­self as a coali­tion of grass- roots non-gov­ern­men­tal groups in more than 100 na­tions. It be­gan in Aus­tralia and was of­fi­cially launched in Vi­enna in 2007.

“We live in a world where the risk of nu­clear weapons be­ing used is greater than it has been for a long time,” said Berit Reiss-An­der­sen, the leader of the Nor­we­gian No­bel Com­mit­tee.

“Some states are mod­ernising their nu­clear ar­se­nals and there is a real dan­ger that more coun­tries will try to pro­cure nu­clear weapons, as ex­em­pli­fied by North Korea.”

The award was hailed by anti- nu­clear cam­paign­ers around the world. Mik­iso Iwasa, 88, a Hiroshima survivor, said the prize would help push the move­ment for­ward.

“It is won­der­ful we have this No­bel Peace Prize-win­ning move­ment. All of us need to join forces, think hard and walk for­ward to­gether to turn this mo­men­tum into some­thing even big­ger.”

The prize seeks to bol­ster the case of dis­ar­ma­ment amid nu­clear ten­sions be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Py­ongyang, as well as un­cer­tainty over the fate of the 2015 deal be­tween Iran and ma­jor pow­ers to limit Tehran’s nu­clear pro­gramme.

The com­mit­tee raised eye­brows with its de­ci­sion to award the prize to an in­ter­na­tional cam­paign group with a rel­a­tively low pro­file, rather than recog­nis­ing the Iran deal, a com­plex agree­ment ham­mered out over years of high­stakes diplo­macy.

“Nor­we­gian No­bel Com­mit­tee has its own ways but the nu­clear agree­ment with Iran achieved some­thing real and would have de­served a prize,” tweeted Carl Bildt, a for­mer Swedish prime min­is­ter who has held top posts as an in­ter­na­tional diplo­mat.

The Iran accord, which Trump has re­peat­edly called “the worst deal ever ne­go­ti­ated”, is seen as un­der par­tic­u­lar threat this week. A se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said on Thurs­day Trump was ex­pected to de­cer­tify Iran’s com­pli­ance, a step to­wards po­ten­tially un­wind­ing the pact.

The com­mit­tee might have been re­luc­tant to re­ward the Ira­nian govern­ment for its role in the nu­clear deal be­cause the only Ira­nian win­ner, 2003 lau­re­ate Shrin Ebadi, a lawyer and hu­man rights cam­paigner, is forced to live in ex­ile.

“I think the com­mit­tee has thought about the hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in Iran. It would have been dif­fi­cult to ex­plain the prize even though it has a favourable view of the Iran deal,” his­to­rian Asle Sveen said.

The com­mit­tee de­nied giv­ing the prize to an anti-nu­clear group was in­tended ei­ther as a re­buke to Trump or as a snub to the ar­chi­tects of the Iran nu­clear deal.

“The Iran treaty is a pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment, a dis­ar­ma­ment de­vel­op­ment that is pos­i­tive, but the rea­son we men­tioned North Korea (in our state­ment) is a ref­er­ence to the threat that peo­ple ac­tu­ally feel,” Reiss-An­der­sen said. – Reuters

Ican ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Beatrice Fihn.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.