Geneva — Days after calling US President Donald Trump "a moron", the head of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning nuclear disarmament group International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) warned on Friday that reckless leaders with atomic bombs made banning the weapons an immediate priority.
Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of ICAN, took the swipe at the US president on Twitter earlier this week, before the group was awarded the Nobel.
Fihn chuckled when asked about the tweet hours after ICAN was honoured for its non-proliferation efforts, making clear that it was meant as a playful reference to an identical quote reportedly attributed to US secretary of state Rex Tillerson.
She said she regretted the comment, but doubled-down on criticism of Trump, arguing that his presidency has reinforced the need to rid the world of its most devastating weapons.
"The election of President Donald Trump has made a lot of people feel very uncomfortable with the fact that he alone can authorise the use of nuclear weapons and there is nothing people can do to stop him", Fihn told reporters in Geneva. "So if you are uncomfortable with the idea of Donald Trump having nuclear weapons that he is able to launch, you are really uncomfortable with nuclear weapons in general," she said. "I think that is really the message we want to come across’ there is no one who we can trust with the ability to destroy the entire world."
Fihn 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 atomic bombs.
ICAN won the award as nuclear tensions — especially between the US and its bitter rivals Iran and North Korea — reach their highest point in years. "This is a time of great global tension, when fiery rhetoric could all too easily lead us, inexorably, to unspeakable horror," ICAN said in a statement. "The spectre of nuclear conflict looms large once more. If ever there was a moment for nations to declare their unequivocal opposition to nuclear weapons, that moment is now."
The group has spearheaded the push for a nuclear ban treaty which has been endorsed by more than 120 countries, but is awaiting the 50 ratifications needed before coming into force. The world’s nuclear-armed states are staunchly opposed to the pact and have pressured allies to reject it.
Fihn accused the US of "scaremongering" over the treaty. "The belief of some governments that nuclear weapons are a legitimate and essential source of security is not only misguided, but dangerous, for it incites proliferation and undermines disarmament. All nations should reject these weapons completely — before they are ever used again."