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 NGOs, 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 ICBM missile launch in late November demonstrated the country’s expanding missile capabilities, putting the international community on edge.
Meanwhile, many foreign policy observers have criticized US President Donald Trump for mocking and lashing out at North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Twitter.
Already, tensions between US and North Korea have spiked, bringing forth the possibility of nuclear retaliation to the global spotlight.
Speaking at the Nobel ceremony in Oslo, Fihn said that the threat of nuclear weapons being used is “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.”
Nobel committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen commended ICAN’s work towards eliminating nuclear weapons, and warned 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 comes at a time when everyone “realizes the danger that we are all living in terms of nuclear peril.”
Referencing 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, White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said the chances for nuclear 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.