VATICAN CITY, JAN. 31, 2011 ( On Saturday in the Vatican, the World Federation of Scientists honored four Nobel Prize laureates who have distinguished themselves for promoting science at the service of peace.

The ceremony to confer the "Science for Peace" awards took place at the headquarters of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, located in the Vatican Gardens.

With this award, the federation seeks to promote the Erice Statement, initiated in 1982 to affirm the commitment of science and technology to serve the cause of peace rather than war. Three years after its inception, 10,000 scientists worldwide had signed the document. Currently, among the signatories are 130 Nobel Prize recipients.

Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and of Social Sciences opened the ceremony, which was presided over by Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists.

Werner Arber, president of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences, was one of the laureates who received the award. Arber, a molecular biologist, received the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1978 together with Hamilton Smith and Daniel Nathans for the discovery of restriction endonucleases. The development of recombinant DNA technology is based on their work.

The peace award was also given to Yuan Tseh Lee, Nobel Prize recipient in 1986 for his contribution to the understanding of chemical elementary processes.

Gerard 't Hooft, 1999 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his studies on the quantum structure of electroweak interactions, was also recognized on Saturday for his work to promote peace through science.

The fourth honoree was Samuel Ting, who in 1976 received the Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering the subatomic J/ψ particle.

Arms race

After the award ceremony, a symposium was held on the importance of science in the culture of the third millennium. It focused on the fact that, 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world has not yet discontinued the arms race.

On this issue, the president of the World Federation of Scientists said that the "enemy number one of peace in the world is the technical-scientific secrecy: While secret laboratories exist, the arms race will be inevitable."

Zichichi noted that at the federation's first meeting in Geneva, the then executives Ronald Reagan of the United States and Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union proposed the opening of all the laboratories, accepting the invitation of the scientists who, meeting in Erice, Italy, signed the manifesto.

However, he lamented that after three decades the scientific secrecy continues to be a threat exactly as it was at the time of the Cold War.

At present, explained Zichichi, the most hardened enemies of science, peace and humanity are the nefarious ideologies that incite hatred and dominance.