(dpa) - The head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Mohammed ElBaradei, warned of the proliferation dangers presented by a renaissance in the use of nuclear power, on opening a conference on nuclear fuel supply in Berlin on Thursday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) general secretary said that growing capacity to enrich uranium meant an increasing number of countries just "a stone's throw" away from nuclear weapons.
This was "the wrong direction" to proceed, he said.
In prepared remarks released from IAEA headquarters in Vienna for the two-day conference, which was being held in closed session, ElBaradei spoke about the possibility of setting up a uranium enrichment facility under international control to provide nuclear fuel to countries needing it.
A growing number of countries were investigating the use of nuclear power to generate electricity, both because fossil fuels were being depleted and because of the dangers of global warming, he said.
"I believe it is possible - and indeed essential - to create a new mechanism that will assure supplies of nuclear fuel and reactors to countries which want them, while strengthening non-proliferation through better controls over the sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle," ElBaradei said.
The sensitive parts were uranium enrichment and plutonium separation, he made clear.
ElBaradei called for a three-stage process: a system for providing nuclear fuel and even nuclear reactors, placing all new enrichment facilities under multilateral control and finally putting existing national enrichment facilities under the same control.
"This is, clearly, a tall order," the UN nuclear chief said.
Germany, which operates enrichment facilities in cooperation with Britain and the Netherlands through the Urenco company, has long pressed for the establishment of an internationally-supervised enrichment facility to provide fuel for new users of nuclear power.