Who won the Peace Prize? Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?
Oslo, Norway — 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.
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 nuclear weapons at the same time it is charged with promoting the very technologies 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 of nuclear non-proliferation. Here's what he had to say about nuclear weapons in The Economist in October 2003:
"I worry that, in our collective memories, the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have begun to fade. I worry about nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists or ruthless dictators. I worry about nuclear weapons already in the arsenals of democracies - because as long as these weapons exist, there is no absolute guarantee against the disastrous consequences of their theft, sabotage or accidental launch, and even democracies are not immune to radical shifts in their security anxieties and nuclear policies. I worry, but I also hope. I hope that a side-effect of globalisation will be an enduring realisation that there is only one human race, to which we all belong."
Spoken like a Peace Prize winner.
But the Mr. Hyde side of his job is to be the UN's front man for the nuclear 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 and Nagasaki have begun to fade. We worry about nuclear materials falling into the hands of terrorists or ruthless dictators. We worry about nuclear materials that are already in nuclear power plants and reprocessing plants and storage facilities. Because as long as these materials exist, there is no absolute guarantee against the disastrous consequences of their theft or sabotage, and even democracies are not immune to radical shifts in their security anxieties and nuclear policies.
We hope that this award will spark a new discussion around the fundamental contradiction of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s dual role as nuclear policeman and nuclear salesman. Only once that duality is removed can the IAEA truly focus on the pressing threat of the global spread of nuclear weapons technology, both civil and military.