The winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), on Sunday warned mankind’s destruction is just one “impulsive tantrum away” as the United States and North Korea exchange warlike threats over the nation’s nuclear tests.
“Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us?” ICAN head Beatrice Fihn said in a speech after receiving the peace prize on behalf of the anti-nuclear group.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have spiralled as Pyongyang has in recent months increased its number of missiles and nuclear tests. It has exchanged warlike threats with Trump, who has ordered a military show of force.
“The only rational course of action is to cease living under the conditions where our mutual destruction is only one impulsive tantrum away,” Fihn added.
ICAN, a coalition of hundreds of NGOs around the world, has worked for a treaty banning nuclear weapons which was adopted in July by 122 countries.
The text was weakened by the absence of the nine nuclear powers among the signatories.
In an apparent snub of the ICAN-backed treaty, the three western nuclear powers — the US, France and Britain — broke with tradition by sending second-ranking diplomats rather than their ambassadors to Sunday’s ceremony.
Supporters of nuclear weapons argue that they serve as a deterrent for starting a major conflict as it would guarantee mutual destruction for the nations involved.
“They are a madman’s gun held permanently to our temple,” Fihn said.
“These weapons were supposed to keep us free, but they deny us our freedoms.”
Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said in her lecture during the ceremony that ICAN’s “message resonates with millions of people who perceive that the threat of nuclear war is greater than it has been for a long time, not least due to the situation in North Korea.”