With the threat of a nuclear conflict growing ever more real, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to a coalition of disarmament activists that lobbied for a treaty to ban atomic arms.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it was honoring the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for its work "to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons."
The decision represents an attempt to reinvigorate the drive for worldwide nuclear disarmament, a goal that appears increasingly out of reach at a time when North Korea has been carrying out provocative tests of its nuclear technology and trading threats of annihilation with President Donald Trump.
The U.S. administration has also signaled that Trump next week could decertify the 2015 agreement that imposed curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, a decision that could lead to the unraveling of the landmark accord.
"We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time," Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said when she announced the prize in Oslo. "Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea."
Though she said the committee wasn't "kicking anybody's leg with this prize," she noted that none of the nine world powers known or believed to have nuclear weapons have so far supported the ban, which was approved by 122 countries at a United Nations meeting in July.
The treaty includes a commitment "never under any circumstances to develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices." It also bans the transfer, use or threat to use of nuclear weapons.
The treaty will enter into force after it has been ratified by 50 parties. So far, only three have done so.
The United States and close allies, including France and Britain, have rejected the effort, calling it misguided and dangerous.
"A purported ban on nuclear weapons that does not address the security concerns that continue to make nuclear deterrence necessary cannot result in the elimination of a single nuclear weapon and will not enhance any country's security, nor international peace and security," the three countries said in a statement issued after the treaty was adopted.