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IAEA Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei (file photo) (epa)
May 26, 2006 -- The head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, Muhammad el-Baradei, says the world's powers must either start getting rid of their nuclear weapons or accept that other countries will want their own atomic arms.
El-Baradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his efforts to stem proliferation, said in a speech in Washington on May 25.
"Nukes breed nukes," el-Baradei said. "As long as some nations continue to insist that nuclear weapons are essential to their security, other nations will want them. There is no way around this simple truth. Here, too, the playing field will need to be leveled, one way or another."
El-Baradei warned that the continued development of nuclear weapons puts the world at risk of having 20 to 30 countries in possession of such weapons -- a condition predicted by former U.S. President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s.
El-Baradei gave his address to this year's graduating class of advanced international studies students at Johns Hopkins University in Washington.
(compiled from agency reports)