“Donald Trump is a moron.” Those are now the immortal words of a Nobel prize winner.
The comment from Beatrice Fihn, executive director the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which Friday won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, came Wednesday amid reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used the same word to describe the president. She hasn’t tweeted since winning the award, but it’s unlikely that President Trump has done anything to change her opinion.
Trump, according to New York Times, is expected to ignore the advice of his top national security advisers and torpedo the nuclear deal the Obama administration struck with Iran. Specifically, Trump reportedly plans to “decertify” the deal, which means he’ll claim that Iran hasn’t complied its pledge to halt development of nuclear weapons. It will be up to Congress to decide whether to reinstate harsh economic sanctions on Iran.
On Thursday, during a meeting with U.S. military leaders, Trump cryptically warned that the gathering represented “the calm before the storm.” When reporters asked what he meant, Trump replied ominously, “You’ll find out.”
By all accounts, Iran has held up its end of the bargain. As the political scientist Ian Bremmer recently pointed out, Trump “wants to show that Obama made a bad deal and he can make a better one.” He wants Iran to stop to stop backing groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, let international inspectors visit military sites, and stop testing ballistic missiles, which weren’t part of Obama’s deal. But experts don’t expect Iran to make any of these concessions, and the fear is that the Middle Eastern power will respond to Trump by doing the exact opposite of what he wants: Start building a nuke.
The timing of all this, combined with Trump’s continued brinksmanship with North Korea, was not lost on the Nobel Committee, which said it awarded the Peace Prize to ICAN in part because “we live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time.”
ICAN has spent the last decade campaigning for a global ban on nuclear weapons. The Geneva-based group, an umbrella organization for 468 NGOs from around the world, achieved its goal in July at the United Nations when more than 100 countries agreed to adopt a treaty that “prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory.”
The nine countries that actually have nukes — the U.S., Russia, U.K., France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea — have refused to comply with the treaty and worked to block it. The Nobel Committee acknowledged that “an international legal prohibition will not in itself eliminate a single nuclear weapon,” but the award is a way of saying the treaty is not a totally meaningless gesture.
In a statement Friday, ICAN didn’t mention Trump by name but his recent words and actions were clearly the focus.
“This is a time of great global tension, when fiery rhetoric could all too easily lead us, inexorably, to unspeakable horror,” the organization said. “The spectre of nuclear conflict looms large once more. If ever there were a moment for nations to declare their unequivocal opposition to nuclear weapons, that moment is now.”