|ElBaradei faces a barrage of well-wishers at an IAEA staff event
(Image: IAEA / Dean Calma)
Mohamed ElBaradei has completed his final term as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and today handed over to Yukiya Amano.
After some years of diplomatic service for his native Egypt, ElBaradei began work at the IAEA in 1984. He held senior legal advisory roles as well as that of deputy director general for external relations before winning election to the top job in 1997. His tenure has seen the IAEA grow enormously in international stature due to its important role in verification of nuclear activities and it is for his leadership in this area that ElBaradei was awarded, jointly with the IAEA, the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
ElBaradei's last working day was 27 November, at the end of which he addressed IAEA staff: "It is a feeling of gratitude," he told the group, "to be leaving at a moment when the agency has reached such prominence in contributing to international security and development." While that status is rightly a source of pride, it is also, he reminded staff, "an immense responsibility, which brings with it much work." He urged the staff and the agency to sustain their "100% commitment to preserving and expanding peace, freedom, justice, and human dignity."
Taking the reins from 1 December is Yukiya Amano, formerly Japan's ambassador to the agency. He has voiced strong support for moves to eliminate nuclear weapons and put nuclear materials beyond the reach of groups that would abuse them.