Congratulations ICAN and the Nobel Committee for raising the nuclear stakes

Peter Rickwood

Atomic Reporters works globally to help journalists cover nuclear news. Awarding the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) puts an issue we should not sleep well at night over onto front pages and at the top of the hour.

Its timing is appropriate on the eve of US reports the Trump administration will start unravelling the nuclear deal with Iran, the nuclear stalemate with North Korea is sending shivers,  tensions between NATO and the Russian Federation fester and South Asia is a nuclear quicksand.

Yet nuclear perils and risks after cold war anxieties subsided more than 25 years ago excite little clamour. With scant knowledge of nuclear technologies and the secrecy surrounding them the voice of the public is muted in policy debate and news media mostly silent.

The  Nobel award brings some light to this dark subject.

We at Atomic Reporters are non-partisan. Our mission is to have nuclear specialists and journalists rub shoulders together and share knowledge and fact based data.

In the current climate it becomes even more imperative for journalists to distinguish fact from fake. The headlong rush by news media prior to the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003 to swallow false claims without demur remains an indelible stain.  Above all journalists need to be adequately equipped to enter the nuclear domain.

And in its own interest the public needs to be better informed about nuclear issues to take part in debate about the implications of the misuse or intentional use of nuclear weapons and decide their fate.

We at Atomic Reporters continue to believe competent journalists are best placed to inform such a debate. We will continue to explore with journalists, nuclear specialists and others, how to build that competency to eliminate obstacles confounding efforts to compellingly tell the story.

Awarding ICAN the Nobel Peace Prize is a reminder we are living in parlous times, nuclear weapons didn’t magically disappear when the cold war ended and we need to pay attention to the nearly 15,000 estimated to remain in their arsenals.

In its formal announcement of the 2017 prize, the Nobel committee said its decision came at time when “the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time.”

Selected news coverage: BBC, Reuters, New York Times, The Guardian

Press release by the Norwegian Nobel Committee

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