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Surge Desk

Mohamed ElBaradei Heads Home to Egypt; His Greatest Moments on the World Stage

Jan 27, 2011 – 3:29 PM
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Torie Bosch Contributor

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei has returned to his homeland of Egypt. Whether or not he wants to run for president, his presence turns up the pressure on the Egyptian government.

Egypt has been rocked by massive anti-government protests over the past two days, but the largest demonstration yet could come Friday after midday prayers; the Muslim Brotherhood, which is often at odds with the Egyptian government, has, for the first time, officially encouraged people to join the protests.

ElBaradei, a prominent opposition leader, supports the movement, with CNN quoting him as saying, "We have been calling for the change for a year now. The regime has not listened to us. Therefore, the youth went on the street."

His arrival, and his provocative words, heighten worldwide attention on Egypt. ElBaradei has spent years in the global public eye.

Surge Desk revisits some of his moments in the international spotlight as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Nuclear inspection in Iraq
ElBaradei disagreed with the invasion of Iraq and repeatedly asked the U.S. and the U.N. Security Council not to rush to war. In 2003, shortly before the war began, Vice President Dick Cheney publicly disagreed with ElBaradei, saying, "I think Mr. ElBaradei, frankly, is wrong. And I think if you look at the track record of the International Atomic Energy Agency in this kind of issue, especially where Iraq's concerned, they have consistently underestimated or missed what Saddam Hussein was doing."

A year later, ElBaradei said that "the opaque nature of that Saddam Hussein regime" contributed to the war, but added that the lack of WMD discovered in Iraq should serve as a reminder: "We learned from Iraq that an inspection takes time, that we should be patient, that an inspection can, in fact, work."

Iran's nuclear armament
In 2009, ElBaradei told the BBC that he believed Iran was quietly developing nuclear technology, saying, "[Iran] wants to send a message to its neighbors, it wants to send a message to the rest of the world: Yes, don't mess with us, we can have nuclear weapons if we want it." Iran denied the accusation, but ElBaradei, who also advocated for compromise with Iraq, said that Iran was not cooperating.

Nobel Peace Prize
ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency shared the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way."

Dealing with North Korea
Though Iraq and Iran may have been more high-profile, ElBaradei also spent a great deal of time trying to work with North Korea. Despite his efforts at compromise over the years, in 2009 he said, "North Korea has nuclear weapons, which is a matter of fact. I don't like to accept any country as a nuclear weapon state, [but] we have to face reality."

Surge Desk Egypt Protest Coverage:
Cairo, Egypt, Protests Erupt [VIDEOS]
Will Egypt Facebook Flashmob Protests Yield Tunisian Results?
Egypt Protest Footage of Water Cannon Evokes Tiananmen Square Images [VIDEOS]

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Filed under: World, Surge Desk, Arab World Unrest