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If you like Mohamed ElBaradei's's story, you might also like:
Jimmy Carter,
Khaled Hosseini,
Hamid Karzai,
Paul H. Nitze,
Linus Pauling,
Shimon Peres,
Edward Teller,
Kent Weeks and
Andrew Young

Related Links:
International Atomic Energy Agency

ElBaradei Addresses UN on Iraq

Nobel Prize

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Mohamed ElBaradei
 
Mohamed ElBaradei
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Mohamed ElBaradei Interview (page: 3 / 7)

Nobel Prize for Peace

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  Mohamed ElBaradei

You mentioned President Carter. It is often suggested that he had more influence on the world after his presidency than during it, because he has some of those gifts.

Mohamed ElBaradei: Sure.

How did you find him at that time?

Mohamed ElBaradei: I found him a man of integrity, absolutely. People disagreed on how effective he was as President, but I think everybody agreed that he's the most effective former President alive right now. I have a lot of respect and admiration for President Carter. It was a delight when I got the Nobel Peace Prize to get a letter from him. It meant a lot to me, getting that letter from a man who is my idol in many ways.

What did he say?

Mohamed ElBaradei Interview Photo
Mohamed ElBaradei: He said, "Rosalyn and I are very delighted that you got the Nobel Peace Prize," and he had a few nice words to say about my work. This meant a lot to me.

In what way was he a model for you?

Mohamed ElBaradei: He always has the courage to express his views, his convictions. He doesn't hesitate to run against the current. He has always had a moral certitude. He looks at the ethics and morality of his action, and that's key. Whatever we do in life, whether privately or publicly, we need to have a compass. We need to be sure that what we do is not only good for us, but good for the people at large. That's ethics. That's morality. I think we need to always know that our work is not just good for us in the short term, but it's morally correct. And when I talk about morality, I don't talk about religion. I talk about a moral code, a moral value, which I think we all have, being honest, being fair, being correct. These are values I think we all share.

As a parent, did you talk about that with your kids, or did you see it more as a process of modeling?

Mohamed ElBaradei: I think it's more modeling. I never bring in my children and say, "Listen, these are the values you should follow in life." I think it's a modeling by my wife and me. I think we give them a good life. They saw how we go through life: a difficult time, a hard time, good time. I am very happy. I think they are good kids. If I have hope, it's because I look at my children.


My children grew up in six countries. They were born in Geneva. They went to grammar school in New York. They went to high school in Vienna. They went to college in London. They went to graduate schools in the U.S., and now they are working both in London. So for them, they are absolutely color-blind. They are absolutely religious-blind. They are absolutely ethnic-blind. For them, home is the world. For them, every human being is just one member of that large human family you have.


So, if we have more of these kids, if we have more children like mine, in my view, we will not have war. We will not continue to kill each other like we did in the Stone Age. The key is get as many people as possible exposed. The key is to get many people to travel. The Achievement Summit is exactly what we need, 100 million times. Get everybody to see the rest of the world, to interact with the other people. Then you realize how much the stereotyping, the us-versus-them will evaporate.

It's also an enrichment of culture. Young people who study the arts and culture of other countries feel more at home in the world.

Mohamed ElBaradei: Sure. I'm exactly the same. I was saying the other day that my wife and I, having spent 35 years in different countries, we fit more or less, everywhere. We do not fit 100 percent anywhere, but we fit, more or less, everywhere in the world. So we feel comfortable wherever we are, which is a great feeling.

Could you tell us how you made the transition from working for the Foreign Minister to where you are today and how you became more involved in the issue of nuclear energy?


Mohamed ElBaradei: I worked with the Foreign Ministry for a while, until 1980. I thought at that time, it was my view that I need to look at the global picture. I need to work with the international community at large. I felt working with the Foreign Service is too restricting for me, and I grabbed the opportunity when I was offered a job with the United Nations in 1980. That's how I started working with international institutions.


I worked with the UN Institute for Training and Research for a number of years. I was teaching international law at NYU at that time, and then I moved to the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, in 1984. This was a journey of 21 years. I started as the agency rep in New York, then a legal advisor to the agency in Vienna, and then Assistant Director-General. Since 1997, I have been elected Director-General, and it hasn't been a quiet time since. As you know, we got into Iraq, we got into North Korea, we will get into Iran.


I have come to realize that a lot of our work would make the difference between war and peace, and it's work that in a way is my passion because I know we can -- not only through our work, but through my work and other people who are doing similar work -- create a safe and more humane world or we can usher the beginning of our destruction. Some people call it "God's work." I don't call it that way. I call it the work that -- I cannot see that I would stop doing as long as I am able to do it.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance


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This page last revised on Sep 19, 2010 13:52 EDT