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Transcripts of Interviews

Transcript of the Director General´s Remarks to International Press Corps on Receipt of 2005 Nobel Peace Prize

IAEA Headquarters Vienna

Delivered 7 October 2005

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: I am out of words. I am very humbled, extremely honoured by this recognition of the work done by the IAEA. I think the prize recognizes the number one theme we are facing today and that is the threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons and the continuing existence of thousands of nuclear weapons and the prospect of nuclear terrorism. By awarding the Nobel Prize to the Agency and myself, the Committee recognized that these dangers and others will only be resolved through the broadest possible international cooperation and the role of multilateralism in resolving all the challenges we are facing today.

The Nobel Committee I think also recognizes the twin role of the Agency, the Agency as a caring mother who is making sure that nuclear energy is at the disposal of humanity, for economic and social development and the Agency as a regulator ensuring that the nuclear energy is used at the highest level of safety and is not misused for any military purpose.

I think the prize would strengthen my resolve and that of my colleagues to continue to speak to the public, to continue to speak our lines, we have no given agenda except to ensure that our world will continue to be safe and humane. The prize has been awarded not only to me but to the Agency, to every single staff member of the Agency and I am very gratified for them because it is for these wonderful men and women whom you see around you here that we are where we are today. So again I look forward to continue our hard road ahead of us. This is not just recognition of achievement, but signalling that difficult road ahead of us, at a time when the summit in New York last summer could not agree on any road map with regard to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The peace prize award by the Nobel Peace Committee today to the Agency in recognition of the importance of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is something, which gives me lot of pride and also lots of responsibilities.

I should tell you that this came as an absolute surprise to me, that the President of the Nobel Committee just called me now to tell me that he did not call me before as the normal practice because you guys [the press] are all around us and the news would have leaked right away. So I was watching television with my wife at 11 o´clock, fully aware that we would not make it because I did not get the call.

And then I heard in Norwegian the International Atomic Energy Agency and my name, which is still the same in Norwegian, and I was just on my feet with my wife, hugging and kissing and full of joy and surprise.

Q: What will you do with the money?

A: I knew you would ask. I hope when I have enough time to think of money, I think right now what I am thinking of is the responsibility on my shoulders and that on the shoulders of my colleagues, to move forward. And I am sure the money will be spent for good causes, both for the Agency and for myself.

Q: How much workload is this award going to give you in complete terms, what do you expect this will do in helping close the file on Iran for example, and perhaps move North Korea back into the Agency?

A: Well I think that the award basically sent a very strong message, which is keep doing what you are doing, be impartial, act with integrity, speak the truth and that is what I continue to do. But the advantage of having this recognition today is that it would strengthen my resolve, it will strengthen the integrity of the Agency. The fact that there is overwhelming public support for our work, definitely will help to resolve some major outstanding issues we are facing today, including North Korea, including Iran dissemination of nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear disarmament issues. So it is a responsibility but it is also a "shot in the arm" as the president of the Nobel Committee told me over the phone, that they want to give the Agency, a short in the arm.

Q: Sir, can this prize be seen as a signal towards States like the United States who have come up with allegations that through your work have seen to be not proven?

A: Well, I think as I said we continue to believe that in all of our activities we have to be impartial, objective and to work with integrity.

We do not believe that we have ultimate truth, we are individuals, we are fellows. We can make mistakes but we try to avoid making mistakes. I cannot guarantee that we will not make mistakes but we try to do to the best of our ability and I believe that those men and women who are working with me and for me have done their best in difficult times. Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, the illicit trafficking of nuclear material, in all these issues we have done our best, as I have said before, we have no agenda, except to make sure that we create a world that is just, equitable and fair. For that you need a system of security that covers everybody, a system of security that does not depend on nuclear deterrence, a system of security where every man and woman has a decent standard of life.

Q: Thank you Dr. Elbaradei, first of all my personal congratulations and secondly you said that the Nobel Committee wanted to give you a shot in the arm. Do you feel that beyond what you are already doing well, which is monitoring, that there is a more defined diplomatic role by you as the IAEA chairman to be taken, specifically in the Iran situation in which two sides are so far apart?

A: Michael, I am aware that the Agency and I wear different hats. We have a legal mandate to verify, we have the jurisdiction to ensure safety and we have a road in the area of Technical Cooperation. But we are also diplomats and we have to – as I see my job – try my very best to try to bring people together, to try to reconcile points of views, to try to resolve issues through peaceful means. Just before coming here I had a very wonderful talk with Secretary Rice. She wished me well and we agreed that we will have to continue to work together, we will have to continue to work with every member of the Agency. I have got long distance calls from Mr. Straw, from Mr. Joschka Fischer, Mr. Solana, and others, I could not name all at the time, but the message is one of the same, we are partners. I don´t see Us versus Them, I see us to be partners. Member States and the First Secretary, we have one simple objective, which is to make sure that we have a world free from nuclear weapons, where terrorist do not get access to nuclear weapons, we have a world, as I said, where every man and woman has safe drinking water, enough to eat and enough to wear. So, I see our mandate, I interpret my mandate very broadly: I am here to further peace and development. And that will be my goal.

Q: Mr. ElBaradei, congratulations from Norway. What is your message to the Norwegian Nobel Committee?

A: Well, my message to the Nobel Peace Committee, which I already conveyed to Mr. Lundstrom is to say "Thank you". Thank you for giving prominence to the role of the Agency, thank you for supporting a cause, which is not very fashionable today, which is nuclear disarmament. I just mentioned that summit last month did not even agree on the road map. Thank you for giving us the prominence, the visibility we need, to continue our work to control nuclear weapons, broad proliferation of nuclear weapons, combined with illicit trafficking of nuclear material and to make our world safer. We still have 2 billion people who live under two dollars a day. This is a heavy task. We modestly contributed to that. But when we talk about nuclear proliferation we should not forget the development of the role of the Agency and I think that is very much in consideration of the Nobel Peace Committee. We need to work on development, we need to work on security because they are the siamese twins, you cannot have peace without security and you cannot have security without development. And the Agency is, as I have said, a developing Agency and the Agency is an arms control Agency. My hope is that I will use this opportunity while we are growing in the public eye to emphasize that we are not only as we are called the nuclear watchdog but we are also a caring mother. That is the important role I would like to continue.

Q: Sir, could you, as far as you can, explain what you and Secretary Rice talked about and have you had a call from the Iranians?

A: I was in the office just for half-an-hour and so I cannot give you details of any conversation I had with any world leader, because this is part of my diplomatic role. But I can tell you that overall there is a commitment by all the world leaders, they have to trust in the Agency, they are delighted to see the Agency getting the Nobel Peace Prize and they are delighted to see us continue our work to resolve many, if not all the thorny issues we are still facing.

Q: Mike from Dutch Radio, I wanted to ask you what you consider your most important success as Director General of the Agency?

A: I usually don´t have time to think about my success, I usually try to avoid making a mistake. But I think some of the successes I would mention are, that we managed to eliminate Iraq´s nuclear weapon programme and now we have known that this was against the war. We managed between 1991 to 1997 to eliminate Iraq nuclear programme; we are the ones who in fact detected the North Korea programme as early as 1992. We have a lot of progress with regard to Iran´s programme although we still have to cope with outstanding issues. So it is a steady progress I think and these are some of the successes we have. But I should also say that one of the improvements, achievements I am proud of is how safety, nuclear safety, has improved in the last couple of years - it´s fifteen years since the Chernobyl accident. Nuclear safety now has a much better level than it was before. How much we have succeeded in the last three years in building up robust nuclear security move against possible nuclear terrorism after 9/11, and how much we are acting in 100 and some countries with many nuclear applications including providing cancer treatment to developing countries, ensuring that they have safe drinking water, ensuring that they have adequate food. These are all, I think, achievements. There are setbacks but this is part of life. But overall I think my colleagues and I are going to sleep tonight with a good deal of satisfaction that finally our efforts have been fully recognized.

Thank you very much.