Trump presidency makes people worried about nuclear arms, Nobel winners say

Japanese survivors of Hiroshima, Nagasaki welcome peace prize award for ICAN, urge greater cooperation in bid to rid world of nukes

US President Donald Trump speaks during a rally for Alabama Republican Senator Luther Strange in Huntsville, Alabama, on September 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a rally for Alabama Republican Senator Luther Strange in Huntsville, Alabama, on September 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

GENEVA, Switzerland — US President Donald Trump’s presidency has put a spotlight on the risks of nuclear weapons, the Nobel Peace Prize winning nuclear disarmament group ICAN said on Friday.

“The election of President Donald Trump has made a lot of people feel very uncomfortable with the fact that he alone can authorize the use of nuclear weapons,” the head of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Beatrice Fihn, told reporters in Geneva.

She said the US leader appeared to have a track record of “not listening to expertise”, and insisted his supervision of a massive nuclear arsenal “just puts a spotlight” on the dangers of such weapons.

(From L) Nuclear disarmament group ICAN coordinator Daniel Hogstan, executive director Beatrice Fihn and her husband Will Fihn Ramsay pose with a banner bearing the group’s logo after ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize for its decade-long campaign to rid the world of the atomic bomb as nuclear-fuelled crises swirl over North Korea and Iran, on October 6, 2017 in Geneva. (AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI)

“There are no right hands for nuclear weapons,” she added, questioning the entire notion of nuclear deterrence, asking whether people in nuclear armed states, including North Korea, actually “feel particularly safe.”

Also Friday, survivors of the World War II atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki congratulated ICAN on winning this year’s prize and vowed to work together with the disarmament group to achieve a nuclear-free world.

“I’m delighted that ICAN, which has taken action to abolish nuclear weapons like us, won the Nobel Peace Prize,” Sunao Tsuboi, who suffered serious burns in the blast and subsequently developed cancer, said in a statement, according to public broadcaster NHK.

“I want to offer my warmest congratulations,” said the long-time Hiroshima campaigner for nuclear disarmament.

“Together with ICAN and many other people, we ‘Hibakusha’ will continue to seek a world without nuclear weapons as long as our lives last,” the 92-year-old said.

Tsuboi was among a handful of Hiroshima survivors who met then US president Barack Obama during his historic visit to the city last year.

“We want to take great delight as it helped build up a treaty banning nuclear weapons,” Shigemitsu Tanaka, a Nagasaki survivor, told reporters.

“We want to work together so that the nuclear disarmament treaty can be signed as soon as possible,” said Tanaka, head of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors Council.

Ageing survivors of the atomic bombing of the two Japanese cities have long spearheaded an anti-nuclear campaign, visiting the UN and other international conferences to narrate the horror of the tragedies.

On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the southern Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing 140,000 people, according to estimates.

Three days later, a second bomb devastated Nagasaki, killing an estimated 74,000 people. Japan surrendered shortly afterwards, bringing World War II to an end.

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