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Muhammad el-Baradei (file photo) (epa)
October 16, 2006 -- The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has warned that up to 30 countries could have the technology to develop nuclear weapons "in a very short time" unless better controls on proliferation are implemented.
The warning from Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei of the UN's nuclear watchdog came at the opening of a Vienna conference on proliferation.
"We need to develop a new system of international approach or multinational approach to this [system of nuclear safeguards] so [as] not to end up with nine [nuclear-]weapons states only, but another 20 or 30, who [will] have a capacity to develop nuclear weapons in a very short span of time," el-Baradei said.
El-Baradei said it had become "fashionable" for countries to look into the possibility of protecting themselves through nuclear weapons.
DECLARED NUCLEAR-WEAPONS COUNTRIES:
country warheads (est.) date of first test
United States 10,500 1945
Russia 18,000 1949
United Kingdom 200 1952
France 350 1960
China 400 1964
India 60-90 1974
Pakistan 28-48 1998
North Korea 0-18 2006
Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, but it has not declared itself a nuclear-armed country.
South Africa constructed six uranium bombs but voluntarily dismantled them.
Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine all gave up the nuclear weapons that were on their territory when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.