Nobel Peace Prize winners warn the world is ‘one tantrum away’ from nuclear crisis

Setsuko Thurlow, who survived the Hiroshima bombing in 1945, with ICAN’s executive director, Beatrice Fihn, during the award ceremony of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, on Sunday.

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Setsuko Thurlow, who survived the Hiroshima bombing in 1945, with ICAN’s executive director, Beatrice Fihn, during the award ceremony of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, on Sunday.
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NTB Scanpix/Berit Roald via REUTERS

  • The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, on Sunday said the world was “one tiny tantrum away” from a nuclear crisis.
  • The group also said a country’s “moment of panic” could lead to the “destruction of cities and the deaths of millions of civilians.”
  • Tensions between the US and North Korea have spiked, bringing forth the possibility of nuclear retaliation into the global spotlight.

The world is “one tiny tantrum away” from a nuclear crisis, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons said on Sunday as it accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.

“We have a choice: the end of nuclear weapons or the end of us,” the group’s executive director, Beatrice Fihn, said, according to a BBC report.

ICAN, a network of more than 400 global nongovernmental organizations, won the prize for its efforts in highlighting the dangers of nuclear weapons as well as working on a treaty to ban them.

The possibility of nuclear retaliation has been thrust into the global spotlight in recent months as tensions between the US and North Korea continue to flare. North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile launch in late November demonstrated the country’s expanding missile capabilities, putting the international community on edge.

At the same time, many foreign-policy observers have criticized US President Donald Trump for mocking and lashing out at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Twitter.

Speaking at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway, Fihn said the threat of nuclear weapons being used was “greater today than in the Cold War” and warned that a country’s “moment of panic” could lead to the “destruction of cities and the deaths of millions of civilians.”

The Nobel committee’s chair, Berit Reiss-Andersen, commended ICAN’s work toward eliminating nuclear weapons, warning that “irresponsible leaders can come to power in any nuclear state.”

The group’s win was announced in October, to international applaud.

Following the statement, Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN under secretary-general and high representative for disarmament affairs, said in a UN broadcast that ICAN’s win came at a time when everyone “realizes the danger that we are all living in terms of nuclear peril.”

Referring to current relations between the international community and North Korea, Nakamitsu said: “moving towards a world free of nuclear weapons is really today an urgent priority.”

Last week, the White House national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the chances for war on the peninsula were growing, CNN reported.

“I think it’s increasing every day, which means that we are in a race, really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem,” McMaster said in a conference in California, when asked whether North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch had increased the chance of war.