Nobel Peace Prize awarded to anti-nuclear weapons group
The Nobel Committee awarded its 2017 peace prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The committee said the organization "has been a driving force in prevailing upon the world's nations to pledge to cooperate ... in efforts to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons."
The prize "sends a message to all nuclear-armed states and all states that continue to rely on nuclear weapons for security that it is unacceptable behavior. We will not support it, we will not make excuses for it, we can't threaten to indiscriminately slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians in the name of security. That's not how you build security," ICAN executive director Beatrice Fihn told reporters in Geneva.
She said that she "worried that it was a prank" after getting a phone call just minutes before the official Peace Prize announcement was made. Fihn said she didn't believe it until she heard the name of the group proclaimed on television.
"We are trying to send very strong signals to all states with nuclear arms, nuclear-armed states – North Korea, U.S., Russia, China, France, U.K., Israel, all of them, India, Pakistan – it is unacceptable to threaten to kill civilians," she said.
The prize comes amid heightened tensions over both North Korea's aggressive development of nuclear weapons and President Donald Trump's persistent criticism of the deal to curb Iran's nuclear program.
"The panel wants to send a signal to North Korea and the US that they need to go into negotiations. The prize is also coded support to the Iran nuclear deal. I think this was wise because recognizing the Iran deal itself could have been seen as giving support to the Iranian state," Oeivind Stenersen, a historian of the peace prize, told The Associated Press.
Reiss-Andersen noted that similar prohibitions have been reached on chemical and biological weapons, land mines and cluster munitions.
"Nuclear weapons are even more destructive, but have not yet been made the object of a similar international legal prohibition," she said.
ICAN is one of those earnest, well meaning do-gooder organizations with lofty goals but a deficient concept of reality. Take as an example the operators' belief that "chemical and biological weapons, land mines and cluster munitions" have all been banned. Residents of several towns and cities in Syria would dispute the notion that chemical and bio weapons have been disappeared via treaty. There are plenty of African countries that still use land mines, and cluster bombs are still being manufactured. To believe that a piece of paper will stop a tyrant like Bashar Assad from using chemical weapons is criminally stupid. It gives some people a false sense of security, and it gives organizations like ICAN a Nobel Peace Prize despite their utter failure to achieve anything.
That includes ridding the world of nuclear weapons. The fact is, the nuclear genie has been out of the bottle since 1945. Building a bomb is actually fairly easy, although getting your hands on highly enriched uranium and developing a workable bomb design is more problematic. But as North Korea has proven, you don't have to be a first-world country to threaten the world. Obstacles can be overcome with enough money and determination.
For the sake of argument, let's say ICAN convinced the states armed with nuclear weapons to give them up. Does that mean that the threat of nuclear war is over? Hardly. ICAN does not mention the probability that international terrorist groups will one day possess nukes, and somehow, I don't think they're going to sign the treaty giving up their weapons. And with absolutely no deterrence against a terrorist group using the bomb, the likelihood that millions would die is even greater than if reasonably well behaved states possessed the weapons.
The fact that ICAN didn't achieve anything is apparently not a deterrent to its being awarded the peace prize. Then again, another recent recipient of the prize had been in office less than a year and was awarded the honor simply for proposing that nuclear weapons be eliminated. He had no other accomplishments to speak of. But Barack Obama ended up being the biggest embarrassment to the Nobel Committee in history when he went to war in four countries and killed thousands of civilians in drone strikes.