Who won the Peace Prize? Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?

Feature story - 7 October, 2005
The Nobel Peace Prize, founded on a fortune made from explosives, has gone to the agency whose job it is to promote nuclear power without promoting nuclear weapons, and the man who heads it. Anybody with that job probably deserves some kind of prize.

Littering the planet with nuclear power plants won't put a lid on nuclear weapons.

Mohammed ElBaradei is the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA), both winners of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

The agency is tasked with policing the spread of nuclearweapons at the same time it is charged with promoting the verytechnologies and materials used to make nuclear weapons.

It's a job worthy of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

In opposing the Iraq war and championing a nuclear-free Middle East,ElBaradei has in recent years been a voice of sanity in the world ofnuclear non-proliferation. Here's what he had to say aboutnuclear weapons in The Economist in October 2003:

"I worry that, in our collective memories, the horrors of Hiroshima andNagasaki have begun to fade. I worry about nuclear weapons falling intothe hands of terrorists or ruthless dictators. I worry about nuclearweapons already in the arsenals of democracies - because as long asthese weapons exist, there is no absolute guarantee against thedisastrous consequences of their theft, sabotage or accidental launch,and even democracies are not immune to radical shifts in their securityanxieties and nuclear policies. I worry, but I also hope. Ihope that a side-effect of globalisation will be an enduringrealisation that there is only one human race, to which we allbelong."

Spoken like a Peace Prize winner.

But the Mr. Hyde side of his job is to be the UN's front man for thenuclear industry, peddling more nuclear power to more countries.  

That, Mr. ElBaradei, is the part of your job that worries us.  You see, we worry that, in our collective memories, the horrors of Hiroshima andNagasaki have begun to fade. We worry about nuclear materialsfalling into the hands of terrorists or ruthless dictators. We worryabout nuclear materials that are already in nuclear power plants andreprocessing plants and storage facilities. Because as long asthese materials exist, there is no absolute guarantee against thedisastrous consequences of their theft or sabotage, and evendemocracies are not immune to radical shifts in their securityanxieties and nuclear policies.

We hope that this award will spark a new discussion around thefundamental contradiction of the International Atomic Energy Agency'sdual role as nuclear policeman and nuclear salesman. Only once thatduality is removed can the IAEA truly focus on the pressing threat ofthe global spread of nuclear weapons technology, both civil andmilitary.

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