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El-Baradei Accepts Nobel Prize, Calls For Nuclear-Free World

El-Baradei after receiving the award in Oslo (AFP) 10 December 2005 -- Muhammad el-Baradei, the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, has accepted the Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo.

El-Baradei and the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) won this year's award for their efforts to make
the world a safer place. In his acceptance speech, el-Baradei said the
world must abandon nuclear weapons if it is to survive.

There was a standing ovation for el-Baradei as he stepped forward to accept his Nobel gold medal and diploma. Then, a performance by the renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, before the main event, which was el-Baradei's acceptance speech.

It was wide ranging, an appeal for human beings to treat each other with dignity and tolerance. But above all, an appeal for a nuclear-free world: "If we hope seriously to escape self-destruction, then I believe that 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 nuclear weapons, that nuclear weapon states move towards disarmament, and we must have a security system that does not depend on nuclear deterrents."

El-Baradei urged greater efforts to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of extremist groups. He said the world needed to strengthen its controls over the production of such materials. And he said nuclear powers must accelerate disarmament.

But, he added, that's not enough. "The hard part is: How do we create an environment in which nuclear weapons -- like slavery or genocide -- are regarded as a taboo and a historical anomaly?" he said.

But el-Baradei said he has hope despite the grim picture he painted in his speech. War is a less acceptable way of resolving conflicts these days, he said. And civil society is stronger.

And he ended his speech on an upbeat note, asking: "Imagine that the only nuclear weapons remaining are the relics in our museums. Imagine the legacy we could leave to our children. Imagine that such a world is actually within our grasp. Thank you very much."

El-Baradei shares his prize with the nuclear watchdog he heads, the IAEA. It has been awarded for his efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and keep them out of the hands of terror groups.

Representing the IAEA was the chairman of its Board of Governors, Yukiya Amano of Japan. It was there 60 years ago that the world saw its first nuclear attacks -- the U.S. atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

El-Baradei said the award represents a powerful message for himself and the agency he leads: "endure, continue your work for peace, security and development."

(international agencies)

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Iran's Nuclear Program

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An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.