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U.N. celebrates Nobel Prize to IAEA

BERNE, Switzerland, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- The United Nations is celebrating the awarding of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize to the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency and its chief.

"Since 1957, the International Atomic Energy Agency has worked tirelessly and expertly to stem the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to promote the safe and peaceful uses of nuclear technology," said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a statement issued Friday through a spokeswoman during a visit to Berne, Switzerland.

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IAEA Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei "has guided this vital mission with great skill since 1997.

The secretary-general congratulated ElBaradei and staff of the Vienna-Based agency, "past and present, on their contributions to global peace."

Annan said the prize was a welcome reminder of the acute need to make progress on the issue of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament "at a time when weapons of mass destruction continue to pose a grave danger to us all," said the spokeswoman, Marie Okabe.

Annan last month lamented the 2005 World Summit at the opening of the 60th annual general debate of the U.N. General Assembly and a non-proliferation treaty conference earlier in the year failure to reach accord on denouncing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The IAEA joins the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, International Labor Organization, U.N. Children's Fund, peacekeepers, former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, American U.N. Middle East peace mediator Ralph Bunche and the United Nations itself as U.N. Nobel laureates, Okabe said.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said in an announcement from Oslo earlier Friday the IAEA and ElBaradei were honored together 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."

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