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Legacy-building IAEA chief goes public with closed-door remarks


Insiders say Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was rather reticent and stiff in public when he took the job in 1997. He’d spent decades below the radar in Egypt’s foreign service, U.S. academia and the U.N. nuclear watchdog as head of the legal and external relations divisions.

But Mohamed ElBaradei evolved into a politically outspoken tribune for international peace and fair play.

That reputation grew as he challenged George W. Bush’s neocons over bogus evidence of mass-destruction weaponry they used to invade Iraq, and their policy of threatening rather than negotiating with Iran, which seemed to backfire by encouraging, not dissuading, Tehran to build up nuclear capability.

ElBaradei’s campaigning for negotiated non-proliferation, disarmament and development through peaceful uses of the atom earned a Nobel Peace Prize for him and the IAEA in 2005.
Now, as he prepares to retire in November, the 66-year-old, self-described “secular pope” has gone into legacy-building overdrive. Media interviews have proliferated with cable TV or web magazine outlets that air or publish his remarks unedited.