Hans Blix and Mohamed al-Baradei, the UN weapons inspectors whose reports could decide whether America attacks Iraq, are among 150 nominations for this year's Nobel peace prize.
The two join the Irish rock star Bono, a former governor of Illinois and a Cuban dissident in the near-record number of groups and individuals proposed for the award, won last year by the former US president Jimmy Carter. "We have a total of 150 nominees so far. The range of nominees is very wide," Geir Lundestad, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, said.
Stein Toennesson, the director of the Oslo Peace Research Institute, said of the inspectors: "If they succeed in getting Iraq to disarm sufficiently to prevent the United States and Britain from going to war, then they deserve [the prize]." While the prize committee declined to release the full list of the nominees for the $1m (£625,000) award, the identity of many has been published elsewhere. George Ryan, who cleared Illinois' Death Row last month when he commuted the sentences of more than 100 prisoners, the human rights group Global Witness and the Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya are on the list. The Czech President, Vaclav Havel, and the French President, Jacques Chirac, have also been nominated.
Other contenders include the American senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar, who have been campaigning to dismantle Russia's ageing nuclear weapons. Experts say they are unlikely to win, because of Mr Carter's victory last year. "Two Americans in a row would be too much," said Irwin Abrams, an expert on the prize and professor emeritus at Antioch University, Ohio.
Predicting the winner might be particularly hard this year because three of the committee members, appointed by Norway's parliament, are new.
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