Friday, October 07, 2005
The man who took on George Bush and won (The Nobel Peace Prize, that is)
In a dramatic rebuff to President George Bush, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the man who dared to tell the Americans that the main plank of the US argument for waging war on Iraq was based on a lie.
The Nobel committee bestowed the prestigious award for 2005 on Mohamed ElBaradei, the UN official who rose to prominence by exposing the lengths that America would go to in its efforts to build a case for war.
Mr ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which shares the prize, delivered a body blow to the Bush administration on the eve of the Iraq war.
During a televised meeting of the UN Security Council in March 2003, he told assembled foreign ministers that documents purporting to prove Iraq had attempted to import uranium from Niger to make a nuclear weapon were fake.
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Mr ElBaradei is the enforcer of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. Since taking over as director-general of the IAEA in 1997,after moving up through the organisation during 13 years, he has particularly lambasted what he sees as double standards on the part of countries that have nuclear weapons, but which seek to prevent others from procuring them.
"We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some to pursue weapons of mass destruction, yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security - and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use," he said.
Mr ElBaradei's award is unlikely to please the Americans, who are working with the IAEA in hopes of referring Tehran to the UN Security Council for failing to come clean on the full extent of its nuclear programme.
John Bolton, now the US ambassador to the UN, launched an unsuccessful campaign to unseat Mr ElBaradei when Mr Bolton was still the top US official responsible for disarmament. But Mr ElBaradei has just been confirmed for a third term as the rest of the board, including Britain, rallied round his candidacy and the US withdrew its objection.