Recurring nuclear theme fuels talk of Nobel Peace Prize for US, Iran

US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) with Hossein Fereydoun (centre), the brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (right), before the Secretary and Foreign Minister addressed an international press cor
US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) with Hossein Fereydoun (centre), the brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (right), before the Secretary and Foreign Minister addressed an international press corps gathered at the Austria Center in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

OSLO • A nuclear deal clinched between Iran and six major world powers that caps more than a decade of negotiations has stoked talk of a joint Nobel Peace Prize for Teheran and Washington this year, despite the likelihood of strong objections from some quarters.

United States President Barack Obama, who won the prize in 2009 for promoting nuclear non-proliferation, hailed the Iran deal on Tuesday as a step towards a "more hopeful world". But Israel pledged to try to halt a "historic surrender".

Awarding the prestigious award to Washington and Teheran would fit a pattern of nuclear-themed peace prizes in years ending in "5", commemorating the bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. "I think the work of the Nobel Committee... this year just got much easier," former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt tweeted after the Iranian deal was announced.

But many doubts remain over the appropriateness of honouring Iran, which does not recognise Israel and backs its foes.

It may also prove hard to reward Washington six years after Mr Obama won the prize in the early days of his presidency, a decision widely decried at the time as unjustified.

Mr Asle Sveen, a Norwegian historian and expert on the prize, said the Nobel committee was also likely to be tracking peace efforts between Colombia's government and Marxist guerillas. "We will have two worthy candidates if everything goes right with both deals," he told Reuters.

Some noted the recurring nuclear theme in prizes handed out at 10-yearly intervals.

The International Atomic Energy Agency won in 2005, ban-the-bomb scientist Joseph Rotblat in 1995, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in 1985, and Soviet human rights campaigner and nuclear scientist Andrei Sakharov in 1975.

Other tips for the 2015 prize, among 276 candidates, have included Pope Francis and a Russian newspaper critical of President Vladimir Putin.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2015, with the headline 'Recurring nuclear theme fuels talk of Nobel Peace Prize for US, Iran'. Print Edition | Subscribe