Mohamed El Baradei wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
Mohamed ElBaradei and International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog agency he heads, won the 2005 Nobel Prize for Peace today.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee called ElBaradei “an unafraid advocate” for nuclear nonproliferation “at a time when the threat of nuclear arms is again increasing.”
Despite the fact that the U.S. helped install ElBaradei in his job 8 years ago, ElBaradei’s refusal in 2003 to confirm White House allegations that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had rebuilt his nuclear weapons program lost ElBaradei the U.S. support he had enjoyed.
In an interview with The Washington Post last fall, ElBaradei said the day the United States invaded Iraq “was the saddest in my life.” It was not because he was a fan of Hussein, but because he was so sure Washington’s assertions about weapons stockpiles and a secret program would be proved wrong.
Washington responded to ElBaradei’s findings on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction by trying to prevent him from taking a third term, despite requests from other board members that he stay on. “I am staying because I was asked, because so many board members made me feel guilty about leaving at such a crucial time,” he said in an interview earlier this year.
The Bush administration launched a vigorous but solitary campaign — including a complete halt of intelligence sharing, recruitment of potential replacements for ElBaradei and eavesdropping on him in search of ammunition against him. But as his popularity diminished in Washington, it soared elsewhere.