More Than 40 Countries Could Have Nuclear Weapons Know-How, IAEA Chief ElBaradei Warns

More than 40 countries may possess the technical knowledge to produce nuclear weapons, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency warned Monday (see GSN, May 25).

In addition to the declared nuclear weapons states, some “estimates indicate that 40 countries or more now have the know-how to produce nuclear weapons,” IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in his keynote address to the agency’s general conference in Vienna. “We are relying primarily on the continued good intentions of these countries, intentions, which ... could ... be subject to rapid change” (see GSN, July 30).

ElBaradei also suggested it was time to strengthen monitoring of nuclear activities, which until recent years has depended mostly on voluntary disclosure, the Associated Press reported.

Uncovered or suspected clandestine nuclear activities over the past two years in countries such as Iran and North Korea seem to have prompted ElBaradei’s remarks, according to AP.

The “relative ease with which a multinational illicit network could be set up and operate demonstrates clearly the inadequacy” of current nuclear export controls, ElBaradei said, referring to the nuclear black market revealed by the reported confession of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan (George Jahn, Associated Press/Miami Herald, Sept. 20).

Sept. 22, 2004
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More than 40 countries may possess the technical knowledge to produce nuclear weapons, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency warned Monday (see GSN, May 25).