London -- The Canadian leader of a cult which believes in UFOs predicted on Thursday a human clone would be born within two years, despite the best efforts of the U.S. government to block such Frankenstein-style activities.
Fifty five-year-old former sports reporter Claud Vorilhon, now known as cult chief Rael, has said a programme by the human cloning company he founded was back on track to clone a person after pressure from the U.S. government stopped a first attempt last year.
Rael said the company, Clonaid, was still in the process of recreating a terminally-ill man at a secret location despite abandoning its U.S. laboratory in the wake of a March warning from the United States Food and Drug Administration that it would not allow experiments on cloning humans.
"The process is going well," Rael told journalists. "A baby will be born 12 to 24 months from now."
Scientists have cloned a number of animals, including Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned mammal, and more recently a pet cat from Texas called "Cc."
But ethical reservations have so far kept the reality of human cloning out of mainstream science and last year the United States.
The emergence of medical complications with Dolly, who has developed premature arthritis, has also cast doubt over the safety of dabbling in what is normally seen as the sole preserve of God or Mother Nature.
Dressed in white and with his hair swept up in a small knot, Rael said fears of the human cloning producing "a monster" or "Frankenstein" were unfounded because faulty cells would be discarded in the Clonaid process.
"My mission is to prepare human beings for future technology," said the Raelian leader, a self-confessed lover of the Internet and video games who was in London to promote his new book.
"Life expectancy is now 90 years, at the beginning of the century is was 40 years...once we have applied this technology human beings will soon live at 700 years," he said.