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IAEA Probing Nuclear "Black Market"

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IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has focused international attention on an emerging and sophisticated "nuclear black market" in weapons technology. Considerable light on the global network has come from the IAEA's ongoing verification of nuclear programmes in Iran and Libya, he said. He stressed that the emerging picture so far has not indicated governments are involved, but rather points to individuals engaged in illicit trafficking of material and equipment.

Dr. ElBaradei raised the issue during his participation in sessions on global and regional security at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and in press interviews. He emphasized the mounting challenges facing the world's regime to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the urgent need for a stronger security framework.

"What we are seeing is a very sophisticated and complex underground network of black market operators not that much different from organized crime cartels," he said. "We are very much into the process of investigating key pieces of this complex picture, with assistance from a number of countries. It's vital that we keep making progress in combined efforts against illicit trafficking, and to keep upgrading security to effectively prevent sensitive nuclear material and technology from falling into wrong hands."

Over the coming weeks, the IAEA Board of Governors is set to receive reports from Dr. ElBaradei on the IAEA's verification of nuclear programmes in Iran and in Libya.

The Board meets in Vienna on 8 March.

Responsible/Contact: Division of Public Information | Last update: 18 February 2011