Rate of illegal nuclear trafficking "scary", ElBaradei warns

Other News Materials 9 February 2008 19:06 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- International trafficking in nuclear material is progressing at an alarming rate, with about 150 cases reported each year, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Saturday.

Addressing a security conference in Munich, ElBaradei said that while the material being traded illegally was not good enough to be used in nuclear weapons, the extent of the trafficking was "scary".

"We still have around 150 cases per year of illicit trafficking of nuclear material. This is a scary number," ElBaradei said.

Noting that most of this material was never recovered or reported stolen, he said his biggest concern was that extremists could soon get their hands on nuclear weapons.

The director general of the IAEA also said any country with an average industrial infrastructure was now capable of developing the necessary know-how to have a nuclear weapon.

And he accused nations which already have nuclear weapons of holding double standards by preventing others from equipping themselves with similar capabilities.

"Ninety per cent (of countries seeking nuclear weapons do so for) deterrence," he said.