OSLO, Oct 7, 2005 (AFP): The 2005 Nobel Peace Prize was on Friday awarded to the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA and its Egyptian director general Mohamed ElBaradei for their work against nuclear weapons proliferation, the Nobel committee said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency and its chief were honored "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way," it said in its citation.
The Nobel Committee's choice comes 60 years after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945, the world's first nuclear attacks.
"At a time when the threat of nuclear arms is again increasing, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to underline that this threat must be met through the broadest possible international cooperation," it said.
The IAEA and ElBaradei were chosen out of a record 199 candidates for this year's prize.
"In the world today, international cooperation in this area is decisive to ensure that we achieve a stable and good world," Nobel Committee president Old Danbolt Mjoes told reporters following the announcement, adding: "It was not an especially difficult choice this year".
The UN agency and its head have been instrumental in the thorny negotiations in Iran and North Korea over the past year that have brought the dangers of nuclear proliferation to the forefront of international consciousness.
The IAEA's 35-nation board of governors this year found Iran guilty of violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and has threatened to take the country before the UN Security Council.
"I am optimistic that in the coming months we will see a resumption of these negotiations," ElBaradei said earlier this week.
The agency has also helped push forth a six-party North Korean nuclear agreement last month, which it described as "a first step toward the goal of the verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner."