International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohammad ElBaradei on Wednesday was honoured with the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for his “impassioned opposition to the use of nuclear energy for military purposes.”

The award, carrying a purse of Rs. 25 lakh and a plaque, was given away by President Pratibha Patil at a function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were present.

Accepting the prize, Dr. ElBaradei said: “India has become a beacon of hope to the developing world ... I trust that India will spare no effort in practising and advocating the highest standards of nuclear safety and security.”

Role acknowledged

Dr. Singh acknowledged Dr. ElBaradei’s role in India being accepted in the civil nuclear mainstream. His being at the helm of the United Nations nuclear watchdog over a decade transformed the way in which the world perceived atomic energy, the Prime Minister pointed out.

Describing the IAEA and its statute as important factors, the Prime Minister wanted all nations to help the agency perform its functions in the present complex environment.

Dr. Singh termed India’s long-standing relationship with the IAEA “spotless.” New Delhi was committed to providing all support to it to perform its designated role and functions in expanding the role of nuclear energy.

Ms. Gandhi noted Dr. ElBaradei’s efforts that led to him being conferred with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 and three terms as the head of the IAEA. She appreciated Dr. ElBaradei for his constructive attitude to India’s views on nuclear energy and having genuine respect for its stand.

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