A year after the world ended its nuclear isolation; it's payback time for India. President Pratibha Patil will honour United Nations nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei Wednesday for his "steadfast espousal of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy".
Patil will confer the 2008 Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development on ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.
The international jury of the prize, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had decided to give the coveted award to ElBaradei in November last year.
The award is given for "his impassioned opposition to the use of nuclear energy for military purposes and his steadfast espousal of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, sustained over many years", a statement from the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust said.
The 67-year-old ElBaradei played an important role in India clinching the safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which paved the way for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) clearing New Delhi's re-entry into international nuclear commerce Sep 6 last year.
When the future of the India-US nuclear deal was still uncertain a couple of years ago, ElBaradei had urged the US Congress to endorse the pact and described it as "a win-win agreement".
Speaking at an international conference on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, ElBaradei Tuesday described India as a leading advocate for nuclear disarmament and asked the world to listen to its "voice" on eliminating nuclear weapons.
He also called for reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in security doctrines of countries. "We have to start laying the groundwork for a global security system that does not depend on nuclear weapons," he said. It has to be a system built on human solidarity and equity; a system based on cooperation and not confrontation; on inclusion and not exclusion, ElBaradei stressed.
ElBaradei and the IAEA he headed were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
The mild-mannered former Egyptian diplomat who has helmed the IAEA since 1997 is known for deploying diplomacy to deal with tricky issues relating to Iraq, North Korea and Iran.
Known for his outspoken views on nuclear proliferation and international security issues, ElBaradei has not shied away from lambasting double standards of the nuclear weapon states that want to prevent others from acquiring atomic weapons.
"We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction, yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security - and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use," he has said.