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Peace Prize winner surprised at selection

October 13, 1995
Web posted at: 8:25 a.m. EDT (1225 GMT)

OSLO, Norway (CNN) -- Joseph Rotblat cried when he heard the news that he and his 38-year-old organization had won the Nobel Peace Prize for 1995.

"I am overwhelmed at the news," the 86-year-old physicist told Reuters at the London office of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. "I did not really expect it. In recent years the peace prize has really been going to well- known politicians."

Not this time. The Nobel Prize Committee sent an open message Friday with its choice for the 1995 prize.

"One of the reasons for the prize is a sort of protest against testing of nuclear weapons and nuclear arms in general," said the prize committee's chairman, Francis Sejersted. "This is a message to all the world's nuclear powers."

The Polish-born Rotblat, now a British citizen, was one of 11 scientists behind a manifesto published 40 years ago by philosopher Bertrand Russell and scientist Albert Einstein, calling on researchers to take responsibility for their work, particularly those working on the atomic bomb. That manifesto served as the groundwork for the Pugwash Conferences, first convened in 1957 in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada.

During Friday's announcement of the prize, the Nobel committee cited the Pugwash Conferences "for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and in the longer run to eliminate such arms."

The committee cited the organization's protests against France's nuclear tests in the South Pacific, and said that the recent 50th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also played a part in the selection.

"I am glad that our work has received official recognition and I hope that it will help other scientists recognize their social responsibility," Rotblat said.

During the Cold War, the Pugwash Conferences brought together military experts, scientists and diplomats in preparation for the 1963 nuclear test ban treaty, 1968 atomic weapons non- proliferation treaty, and 1972 biological weapons conference. The organization has focused its most recent efforts on environmental, energy and Third World issues.

Rotblat and the other Nobel winners named in the past week will be honored on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of prize founder Alfred Nobel, in Oslo.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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