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LONDON — The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to a group campaigning for nuclear disarmament — a decision that comes amid growing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea and as President Donald Trump reportedly considers ending a nucelar deal with Iran.
The Nobel Committee honored the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for drawing attention to "the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons" and for its efforts toward nuclear prohibition.
“I am shaking. What an honour,” ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn said after hearing the news.
Fihn, who is active on social media, called Trump a “moron” in an Oct. 4 tweet, but Nobel Committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said the prize was not intended as an affront to him or any country.
"We are not kicking anybody’s leg with this prize," Reiss-Andersen said. "We are giving great encouragement and want to help ICAN focus on the extremely seriously problem that the world is facing. People of the world don’t want to be defended with nuclear weapons.”
She said the rising nuclear tensions played a role in the committee's decision.
“The disarmament of nuclear weapons never goes out of date,” she said. “I do think that there is a popular belief among the people all over the world that the world has become more dangerous and that … the threat of nuclear conflict has come closer.”
ICAN is a coalition of non-governmental organizations from around 100 different countries around the globe.
The Nobel committee said ICAN has given the movement toward the world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigour.
Reiss-Andersen said the group had "played a major part in bringing about what in our day and age is equivalent to an international peace congress."
The Nobel committee emphasized that the next steps towards attaining a world free of nuclear weapons must involve the nuclear-armed states and is calling upon these states to initiate negotiations to gradual elimination of the world’s 15,000 nuclear weapons.
Trump is reportedly expected to announce that he will decertify the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which he has previously called “an embarrassment to the United States.”
And the escalating war of words between President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-un has cast new fears of a possible nuclear conflict.
Last month, North Korea tested its most powerful nuclear bomb yet, triggering a 6.3-magnitude earthquake and unleashing a barrage of critical Tweets from the U.S. President who earlier promised to unleash “fire and fury” on the reclusive state.
The committee received 318 nominations for this year’s Peace Prize, including 215 individuals and 103 organizations. It’s the second highest number of nominations ever. The record of 376 candidates was set last year. The names of the nominees are not announced in advance and can’t be revealed for another 50 years.
In 2016, the Peace Prize was awarded to President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos for his efforts to bring the country's more than 50-year-long civil war to an end and initiating negotiations between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas.
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 97 times to 130 Nobel Laureates — 104 individuals and 26 organizations — between 1901 and 2016.
The founder of the Nobel Prize, Alfred Nobel, was interested in social issues and was engaged in the peace movement. His acquaintance with Bertha von Suttner, who was awarded the 1905 Nobel Peace Prize, influenced his own views on peace.