El Baradei- Tall and Shy
United Nations nuclear watchdog Chief, Mohamed ElBaradei and his agency have won the Nobel Peace Prize 2005.
ElBaradei is a former Egyptian diplomat who joined the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1984 and held a series of high-level policy positions in the organisation before becoming director 13 years later.
He secured a third term at the helm of the agency after the US eventually agreed to back him, although relations between Washington and the IAEA have not been without tensions in recent years. For although ElBaradei has agreed with the current administration on a number of key nuclear-related issues, he is not afraid to speak his mind. He has particularly lambasted what he sees as double standards on the part of countries which have nuclear weapons, but which seek to prevent others from procuring them.
Born in Egypt in 1942, ElBaradei studied law at the University of Cairo. He began his career in the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1964, and worked in Egypt’s permanent mission to the UN both in New York and in Geneva. ElBaradei holds a doctorate in international law from New York University’s law school. In 1980, he became a senior fellow in charge of the International Law Programme at the UN’s Institute for Training and Research. Since taking over from Swedish diplomat Hans Blix in 1997, ElBaradei has employed diplomacy to deal with nuclear rows over Iraq, North Korea and Iran, and insists that even in the most difficult situations, progress can be made. ElBaradei’s views on Iraq inevitably contributed to tensions with the US, and his approach to Iran has not convinced many members of the Bush administration.
Most recently, it is his focus on Iran — and IAEA efforts to establish whether that country has a secret nuclear weapons program — that has kept him in the international non-proliferation limelight.He married Aida Elkachef, a kindergarten teacher, and had two children: Laila, a lawyer, and Mostafa, a biotechnologist. Tall and shy, ElBaradei joined the IAEA in 1984 and rose from within the ranks of the 139-nation agency.