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Mohamed ElBaradei has played a key role in the most high-stakes conflicts of our time. Unique in maintaining credibility in the Arab world and the West alike, ElBaradei has emerged as a singularly independent, uncompromised voice. As the director of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, he has contended with the Bush administration's assault on Iraq, the nuclear aspirations of North Korea, and the West's standoff with Iran. For their efforts to control nuclear proliferation, ElBaradei and his agency received the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.
ElBaradei takes us inside the nuclear fray, from behind-the-scenes exchanges in Washington and Baghdad to the streets of Pyongyang and the trail of Pakistani nuclear smugglers. He dissects the possibility of rapprochement with Iran while rejecting hard-line ideologies of every kind, decrying an us-versus-them approach and insisting on the necessity of relentless diplomacy. Above all, he illustrates that the security of nations is tied to the security of individuals, dependent not only on disarmament but on a universal commitment to human dignity, democratic values, and the freedom from want. "We have no other choice," ElBaradei says. "The other option is unthinkable."
"Help us help you."
The man on the other side of the table smiled, but it was not happiness that I read in his expression. His eyes softened, and the corners of his mouth drooped. Was it sadness? Fatigue? I wasn't sure.
It was February 9, 2003. It had been more than a dozen years since the UN Security Council had first issued sanctions on Iraq. In a little more than a month there would be yet another U.S.-led invasion. Saddam Hussein had recently readmitted UN weapons inspectors to Iraq, and Hans Blix and I, the leaders of the international teams, were making our