Book review: Away from Egyptian domestic politics, ElBaradei speaks of IAEA years

Dina Ezzat, Friday 29 Apr 2011

The global nuclear non-proliferation regime is failing, says Mohamed ElBaradei in a new book reflecting on his time as head of the IAEA

Mohamed ElBaradei
Former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei (Photo: AP)
The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times is the title of the Mohamed El-Baradei's book on his years as head of the world nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In 12 chapters, El-Baradei, who headed the organisation for 12 years that ended in 2009, talks about the most crucial nuclear files of the decade: Iraq, Iran and North Korea. He also offers his account of the Libyan decision to abandon a potential nuclear weapons programme, the allegations leveled against Syria of nuclear deception, and the exemption of Israel from nuclear accountability by virtue of not being a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The book is published in English. An Arabic version is to be printed shortly by Dar Al-Shorouk.

Meanwhile, the book is being translated into around 20 languages, for readers around the world to learn in a detailed — even if not fully revealing — narrative the behind-the-scenes administration of crucial peace and security matters related to nuclear energy and nuclear weaponry.

The in-depth reading of the political scene that El-Baradei offers on these and other nuclear accounts is often coupled with vivid recollection of meetings with top world leaders like George W Bush, former US president, Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Guide of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Ariel Sharon, former Israeli prime minister.

Egypt is not a centerpiece of The Age of Deception, but the move of the regime of Hosni Mubarak to develop a peaceful nuclear energy programme and the handling by the Egyptian government of this move are detailed in revealing accounts of talks between El-Baradei and senior Egyptian officials.
The core message that El-Baradei eloquently puts across is clear: the current nuclear non-proliferation regime is not working well, partially due to the continued discrepancy between nuclear haves and have nots, and partially due to the fact that nuclear countries are not honouring their commitment to disarm, while at the same time they are pushing to prevent other countries from possessing nuclear technology.
The limitations of the verification and safeguards regime are also presented as a handicap to non-proliferation, in line with the decision of leading countries to prioritise national agendas over the global agenda, and the limitation of resources of the IAEA, which makes the world body at times dependent on member states for technological and intelligence support.
Spurring "genuine progress towards global nuclear disarmament," El-Baradei writes in the introduction to the book, is the ultimate goal of The Age of Deception. For El-Baradei, this call is about "the security of the human family".
"With globalisation bringing us ever closer together, if we choose to ignore the insecurities of some, they will soon become the insecurities of all," El-Baradei stated in the speech he made in Oslo in 2005 upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, also on behalf of the IAEA. The Age of Deception reminds us that "the yearning for security is a universal human quality".

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