Saturday, December 10, 2005

Mohammed ElBaradei Wins Nobel Peace Prize 2005

Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency received the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize today, making an impassioned acceptance speech that called for the total elimination of nuclear arms.(Video of the lecture) The prize was shared with the IAEA themselves.

In the so-called nuclear non-proliferation regime, the world's most exclusive old-boys-club, the IAEA is tasked with limiting spread of nuclear arms. It is therefore either sophistry or daring to call for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. General Eisenhower proposed the IAEA in 1953 in his famous "Atoms For Peace" speech to the United Nations.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty has not proved very successful in it's objectives, partly because of a reluctance on the part of the major powers to move towards disarmanent. Only one country, South Africa, has developed nuclear weapons and then abandoned them. Ukraine and Kazakhstan renounced the atomic weapons left behind in their territories by the erstwhile USSR. India, Israel and Pakistan, on the other hand, have expanded their militaristic nuclear programs.

The IAEA has also faced challenges monitoring the nuclear programs of countries like Iran, North Korea and Iraq. Iran today announced it would be producing nuclear fuel. North Korea's ambiguity and posturing has challenged the efforts of IAEA in the Far East. As Professor Ole Danbolt Mjøs, Chairman of the Nobel Peace Committee said, when announcing the prize in October 2005,"At a time when international organizations have been heavily criticised, the IAEA has not only maintained but even in many respects strengthened its position. Its security control enables the organization to exercise functions that were previously the preserve of national authorities. In so far as it has encroached on national sovereignty, this control has broken new ground. Complete sovereignty in the nuclear field means complete insecurity for the rest of the world."

Mr Baradei noted in his acceptance lecture,
...our security strategies have not yet caught up with the risks we are facing. The globalization that has swept away the barriers to the movement of goods, ideas and people has also swept with it barriers that confined and localized security threats.
Fifteen years ago, when the Cold War ended, many of us hoped for a new world order to emerge. A world order rooted in human solidarity – a world order that would be equitable, inclusive and effective.

But today we are nowhere near that goal. We may have torn down the walls between East and West, but we have yet to build the bridges between North and South – the rich and the poor.

Consider our development aid record. Last year, the nations of the world spent over $1 trillion on armaments. But we contributed less than 10 per cent of that amount – a mere $80 billion – as official development assistance to the developing parts of the world, where 850 million people suffer from hunger.
Today, with globalization bringing us ever closer together, if we choose to ignore the insecurities of some, they will soon become the insecurities of all.

Equally, with the spread of advanced science and technology, as long as some of us choose to rely on nuclear weapons, we continue to risk that these same weapons will become increasingly attractive to others.

I have no doubt that, if we hope to escape self-destruction, then nuclear weapons should have no place in our collective conscience, and no role in our security.

To that end, we must ensure – absolutely – that no more countries acquire these deadly weapons.

We must see to it that nuclear-weapon states take concrete steps towards nuclear disarmament.

And we must put in place a security system that does not rely on nuclear deterrence.
Imagine what would happen if the nations of the world spent as much on development as on building the machines of war. Imagine a world where every human being would live in freedom and dignity. Imagine a world in which we would shed the same tears when a child dies in Darfur or Vancouver. Imagine a world where we would settle our differences through diplomacy and dialogue and not through bombs or bullets. Imagine if the only nuclear weapons remaining were the relics in our museums. Imagine the legacy we could leave to our children.

Imagine that such a world is within our grasp.
(Please excuse the long quotes, but I recommend you read the rest of this important speech as well)
Nuclear Energy is proving a boon to the energy-starved BRIC countries (Russia, China, Brazil, India). Some of the credit for this must go to the IAEA and their efforts at peaceful uses of nuclear energy. In the 60th year after the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, these peaceful uses are perhaps the only way we can channel the genie and placate the hungry heart of the atom.

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