We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been
Days before the Nobel announcement, Fihn had tweeted simply: “Donald Trump is a moron”, a remark she said Friday that she regretted.
Although global atomic stockpiles have plummeted -from around 64,000 weapons in 1986 at the height of the Cold War to about 9,000 in 2017, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) -- they remain a global concern.
NATO, which has three of the world's nuclear powers in its ranks and which opposed the weapons ban treaty, welcomed “the attention given to the issue” by ICAN's win.
But the alliance's secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement that “the conditions for achieving nuclear disarmament are not favourable today”.
The survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, however, congratulated ICAN.
“We want to work together so that the nuclear disarmament treaty can be signed as soon as possible,” said Shigemitsu Tanaka, head of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors Council.
Friday's award comes as a global nuclear deal with Iran is under increasing pressure from Trump.
The agreement struck in 2015 between Iran and world powers drastically curbed Tehran's nuclear enrichment capability in return for a lifting of punishing economic sanctions. Iran denies ever pursuing a bomb, insisting its nuclear programme is for peaceful energy production only.
But Trump has threatened to bin the accord, and on Thursday criticised Iran's behaviour, telling military leaders in Washington that Tehran has “not lived up to the spirit of the agreement”.
Trump is planning to decertify the deal, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported Friday, potentially paving the way for renewed sanctions on Tehran.
Tensions have also soared between the US and North Korea, which has test-fired two missiles over Japan and conducted a string of apparent underground nuclear tests.
“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.
'World without nuclear weapons'
The Nobel committee has rewarded anti-nuclear weapons drives on several previous occasions, honouring Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov in 1975, the international non-proliferation group IPPNW in 1985, and Mohamed ElBaradei, then the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, twenty years later.
UN chief Antonio Guterres praised ICAN's win, tweeting: “Now more than ever we need a world without nuclear weapons.” But Russia, which according to some counts has the world's largest atomic stockpile, said there was no alternative to “nuclear parity” in guaranteeing world peace.
More than 300 people and organisations were thought to have been nominated for this year's Peace Prize, including the UN's refugee agency UNHCR, Syria's White Helmets rescue service and Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege.
The Peace Prize, which comes with a gold medal and a cheque for nine million Swedish kronor (943,000 euros, $1.1 million), will be presented in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of the death of its founder, Swedish philanthropist and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel.