IAEA chief ElBaradei conferred with 2008 Indira Gandhi Prize

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New Delhi, Sep.30 (ANI): President Pratibha Devisingh Patil conferred the 2008 Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development on Mohamad ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here on Wednesday.

The prize includes a plaque and cheque of Rs. 2.5 million.

ElBaradei was bestowed this coveted award for his steadfast espousal of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

An international jury selected ElBaradei's name for the coveted prize last November.

The award was given for ElBaradei's impassioned opposition to the use of nuclear energy for military purposes and his unwavering espousal of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, sustained over the years.

Mohamed ElBaradei, during his thanksgiving speech after receiving the prize, expressed his happiness at this lifting of restrictions on India's nuclear trade and placed trust in India that it would maintain the highest standards of nuclear safety and security.

"I'm delighted at the recent unjust restrictions on India's nuclear trade which came to an end quite recently. This has opened the door for India to accelerate its use of nuclear power to help meet its energy needs, combat climate change and secure energy independence. I trust that India will spare no efforts in practising and advocating the highest standards of nuclear safety and security," said ElBaradei.

Hailing the recent moves by the United States and Russia in negotiating significant cuts in their nuclear arsenals, ElBaradei opined that with this step, finally the issue of nuclear disarmament is back on the international agenda after a long hiatus.

ElBaradei further said that only by demonstrating the irreversible commitment to achieving a world free from nuclear weapons, would the weapon states gain the moral assault to call on the rest of the world to curb the proliferation of these inhumane weapons.

"Nuclear disarmament is, after a long hiatus finally back on the international agenda. President Medvedev and Obama have made a commitment to cut their countries' nuclear arsenal by as much as a third. It is ... prospect of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) coming into force and the conference on disarmament in Geneva, have agreed to negotiate a treaty that would outlaw the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons. But, only by demonstrating the irreversible commitment to achieving a world free from nuclear weapons, will the weapon states can contribute to the legitimacy of the non-proliferation regime and gain the moral assault to call on the rest of the world to curb the proliferation of these inhumane weapons," the IAEA chief said.

Earlier he had hailed India's peaceful use of nuclear sources as means of progress and to meet its energy needs.

Prime Minister Manmohan Dr. Singh Speaking on this occasion, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said it was only through the concerted efforts of the world community that it is possible to promote peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Dr. Singh also noted that it should not remain confined to a privileged few.

"We need the concerted and collective efforts of world community to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy as widely as possible. Its benefits should not remain confined to a privileged few. The growth of nuclear energy must grow hand in hand with measures to reduce and eliminate the risks of its misuse. We should work to strengthen public trust and confidence in issues related to nuclear safety and security," said Dr. Singh.

Just as the world was seeking to enhance peaceful uses of nuclear energy, there was a pressing and immediate moral obligation to draw down and eventually do away with its destructive use of nuclear energy, Singh had said on Tuesday (September 29) while addressing a conference on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy hosted in New Delhi.

He also mentioned about India's nuclear industry being poised for a major expansion and said that seeking international cooperation is an important component towards achieving that growth.

ElBaradei, 67, played an significant role in India clinching the safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which paved the way for the uclear Suppliers Group (NSG) clearing India's re-entry into international nuclear commerce last year in September. (ANI)

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