- VIENNA (Reuters) - The head
of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Tuesday that unless the United States
and other nuclear powers take concrete steps toward disarmament, scores
of countries will follow their lead and build atomic weapons.
- The United States, China, Britain, France and Russia
all signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). They were allowed
to keep their atomic arsenals, but agreed to begin negotiations on full
- "Unless we are moving steadily toward nuclear disarmament,
I'm afraid that the alternative is that we'll have scores of countries
with nuclear weapons and that's an absolute recipe for self-destruction,''
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei told
- The IAEA is charged with verifying members countries'
compliance with the NPT through regular inspections of its nearly 190 signatories'
nuclear facilities to ensure they are not diverting resources to secret
- ElBaradei has attacked U.S. plans to research so-called
"mini nukes,'' smaller nuclear bombs which Washington says it wants
to study but not deploy. ElBaradei says these plans are sending the wrong
signal to states considering atomic bombs.
- "I think eventually the weapons states have to make
good on their commitment under the NPT, which was made 30 years ago, saying
that we are going to move to nuclear disarmament,'' he said.
- "That was an acknowledgment that nuclear weapons
are inherently bad and that we should get rid of them,'' ElBaradei said.
"The sooner we do that the better.''
- India and Pakistan have not signed the NPT but have nuclear
weapons. Israel has never acknowledged it has a nuclear arsenal, though
it is estimated to have up to 200 atomic weapons.
- The IAEA discovered Iraq's secret nuclear weapons program
after the first Gulf War in 1991. The agency has said that by 1995 it had
dismantled the program.
- Earlier this month the IAEA governing board gave Iran
until October 31 to prove it has no secret atomic weapons program, as the
United States alleges. ElBaradei said Tuesday Tehran would miss the deadline
unless it began to give him "full cooperation'' soon.