The Message in the Prize
President Bush will not be amused by the Nobel Prize awarded to Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), predicts the Age in Australia.
"Intentionally or not, the decision ... is a rebuke to United States President George Bush," says the Melbourne daily.
While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice offered congratulations, observers in the international online media expressed no doubt the rebuke was intentional.
The Times of London calls it an undeserved "slap in the face" for the United States.
Foreign editor Bronwen Maddox writes that ElBaradei and the IAEA "have failed to detect covert nuclear programmes in at least three countries - and failed to get diplomatic purchase on the problems when others have finally brought them to light. That does not amount to a contribution to world peace.
ElBaradei's only correct call, he says, was "the one most provocative to the US: that Iraq, in 2003, had no significant nuclear programme."
The Guardian was more approving, saying the Norwegian Nobel Committee has "returned to sticking its neck out."
The committee's recent awards -- to Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai in 2004, Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi in 2003 and former U.S. president Jimmy Carter in 2002 -- "were well deserved but essentially about recognising people the international community had overlooked," says Guardian blogger Simon Jeffery.
"Coming after the oil-for-food report and a spike in UN bashing, largely from the US right, the award to the IAEA, a UN agency, is also a boost to the world organisation and an endorsement of the principles of multilateral diplomacy," he writes.
More than one news story recalled The Washington Post's story from last June that John R. Bolton (now U.N. ambassador) had waged an intensive behind the scenes effort to oust ElBaradei from his job. The Bush administration abandoned the effort when it found that all of its allies favored retaining the Egyptian-born head of the nuclear watchdog agency for a third term.
There was no immediate official reaction from Iran, but it may not be positive. The Islamic Republic News Agency reported Friday that hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was attending a government-sponsored rally in defense of Iran's nuclear program on Friday, around the time the Nobel Peace Prize was announced. One demonstrator carried a sign reading "Board of Governors' resolution is US plot."
That resolution, criticizing Iran's noncompliance with IAEA inspections, was unanimously approved last month under ElBaradei's leadership.
The Russian government, which has resisted the European and U.S. pressure campaign on Iran, called the selection "right and absolutely irreproachable," according to MosNews.
Anti-nuclear activists and environmentalists in France are indignant, though few chose to be quoted by name, reports Liberation, the left-wing Paris daily. The unnamed sources say that the IAEA covered up the true extent of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 20 years ago and has effectively promoted the spread of nuclear weapons.
The Norway Post says history played a role in the choice, citing both the 60th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and "the committee's habit of awarding anti-nuclear activists at ten-year intervals."
"In 1995, British ban-the-bomb scientist Joseph Rotblat won with his Pugwash organisation. In 1985, the award went to a US-Soviet group of doctors, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War," the Oslo-based site noted.
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