Nobel Peace laureates slam 'insanity' of nuclear weapons



STOCKHOLM, Lennart Simonsson (dpa) – Representatives of an anti-nuclear weapons campaign group pledged to abolish the "ultimate evil" and "insanity" of nuclear weapons after receiving the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Norway on Sunday.
"[It is] insanity to allow ourselves to be ruled by these weapons," Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) said.



She accepted the Nobel Peace Prize with Setsuko Thurlow of Japan, a survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and an ICAN campaigner.
Speaking in Oslo's City Hall, Fihn said that there are more nuclear weapons in existence - and more states that posses them - now than during the Cold War.
"Today we face many more nuclear armed states, terrorists and cyberwarfare. All of this makes us less safe," Fihn cautioned.
Fihn also addressed each of the nine known nuclear powers:
"The United States, choose freedom over fear.
"Russia, choose disarmament over destruction.
"Britain, choose the rule of law over oppression.
"France, choose human rights over terror.
"China, choose reason over irrationality.
"India, choose sense over senselessness.
"Pakistan, choose logic over Armageddon.
"Israel, choose common sense over obliteration.
"North Korea, choose wisdom over ruin."
ICAN was cited by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for its focus on addressing the gap in international law regarding the restriction of nuclear weapons.
Fihn heads the Geneva-based office of ICAN, a coalition of 468 non-governmental organizations from over 100 countries.
The group was part of the recent, successful campaign for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, approved by the UN in July. However, nuclear states and members of NATO have yet to sign the agreement.
The treaty "is a light in a dark time," Fihn said, adding that "it provides a choice. A choice between the two endings: the end of nuclear weapons or the end of us."
Thurlow, who was 13 at the time of the Hiroshima bombing, recalled scenes of horror and death she witnessed and "the foul stench of burnt human flesh."
She also mentioned the victims of atomic bomb tests, including those on Pacific islands and the Semipalatinsk test site in north-east Kazakhstan.
"Whenever I remember Hiroshima, the first image that comes to mind is of my 4-year-old nephew, Eiji, his little body transformed into an unrecognizable melted chunk of flesh," she said.
Thurlow said nuclear weapons were "not a necessary evil, they are the ultimate evil" while the UN treaty signed in July was "humanity at its best."
"All responsible leaders will sign this treaty. And history will judge harshly those who reject it," she said.
Thurlow and Fihn received standing ovations after their remarks.
Berit Reiss-Andersen, who heads the five-strong Norwegian Nobel Committee, said that 12 previous peace prizes have been awarded since 1959 to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and for nuclear disarmament.
"The devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has taught us that nuclear weapons are so dangerous, and inflict so much agony and death on civilian populations, that they must never, ever, be used again," she said.
Attendees at the ceremony included King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Absent, however, were the US, British and French ambassadors.
The peace prize is one of the awards endowed by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite.
In a separate ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf later presented the Nobel Prizes for physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and economics.
Each prize is worth 9 million Swedish kronor (1.1 million dollars).
The award ceremonies are traditionally held on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.
Carl-Henrik Heldin, chairman of the Nobel foundation that manages Nobel's assets, noted how "science, rational thinking and the quest for knowledge are being questioned."
He also mentioned the fate of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar in reference to how human rights are under fire.
Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, gave an overview of literature laureate Kazuo Ishiguro, concluding that "all his books, each in its own way, inquire into the relationship between present and past. We call this relationship memory."
In Stockholm, the festivities continued with a banquet at City Hall with some 1,300 guests including royal family members, diplomats, academics, politicians and others from the worlds of business and the arts.
Thousands of flowers decorated the Stockholm Concert Hall and City Hall. They were flown in from San Remo, Italy, where Nobel died 1896.
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Saturday, December 16th 2017
Lennart Simonsson
           


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