Nobel peace laureates urge US, NKorea to de-escalate nuclear threats


Oslo (AFP)

Representatives of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), on Saturday called on the US and North Korea to reduce tensions and end the "urgent threat" posed by weapons of mass destruction.

"There's an urgent threat right now," ICAN head Beatrice Fihn told a press conference in Oslo.

"I would very strongly urge these two leaders to back down from this threat, stop threatening to use weapons of mass destruction to slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians, engage in diplomatic solutions" and work for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Tensions have sky-rocketed across the Korean peninsula where the belligerent North has ramped up the firing of missiles and nuclear testing as it exchanges threats with US President Donald Trump, who has ordered a military operation in the region.

"I've repeatedly and strongly urged both leaders to never use nuclear weapons ... and negotiate," said ICAN member Setsuko Surlow, who survived the Hiroshima nuclear bombing which killed around 140,000 people in 1945.

Now a Canadian resident, the 85-year-old Surlow and Fihn will formally receive the Nobel prize on behalf of ICAN on Sunday for its efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

A coalition of hundreds of NGOs worldwide, the ICAN campaign has worked for a historic nuclear weapons ban treaty, adopted in July by 122 countries but weakened by the absence of the nine nuclear powers among the signatories.

"These weapons do not make us safe. They are not a deterrent, they only spur other states to pursue their own nuclear weapons," Fihn said.

US Senator Lindsey Graham last Sunday told CBS that each North Korean missile test brings the US "closer" to a war with the country.

"If you are not comfortable with Kim Jong-un having nuclear weapons then you are not comfortable with nuclear weapons," Fihn said.

"And if you're not comfortable with Donald Trump having nuclear weapons then you're not comfortable with nuclear weapons."