The Norwegian Nobel Committee picked the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and ElBaradei, an Egyptian, from a record field of 199 candidates. This years candidates were unique in that they represented a focus by the Nobel committee on nuclear disarmament and safety.
ElBaradeis victory is a double edged sword. On the one hand, the new prominence that will be afforded the IAEA as a result of its victory will focus much needed attention on securing vast piles of unprotected nuclear material world-wide―particularly Russia, where weapons grade material is only partially secured. It will also doubtless draw more attention to the question of whether Iran is building a nuclear arsenal―something the IAEA has yet to establish.
But the IAEA is, on the other hand, a body that governs civilian nuclear power usage thoughout the world, and in that sense also promotes its use. This is an issue that is likely to concern environmentalists and organisations, including Bellona.
ElBaradei and the IAEA had been among favourites for the award, the 60th anniversary of the US atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.Other prime contenders, according to press speculation, had been US Senator Richard Lugar and former US Senator Sam Nunn for their 12 year effort under the Nunn-Lugar act to help Russia dismantle the post Soviet nuclear arsenal it had inherited from the Soviet Union.
The prize, named after Swedish philanthropist Alfred Nobel, is worth $1.3 million and is due to be handed out in Oslo on December 10th.