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A Russian scientist says he wants to create more genetically modified babies, flouting international objections that such a step would be premature, unethical and irresponsible.

Denis Rebrikov, a molecular biologist who heads a gene-editing lab at the Kulakov National Medical Research Center for Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology in Moscow, claims he has developed a safe — and therefore acceptable — way to create gene-edited babies.

"How it can be unethical if we will make [a] healthy baby instead of diseased?" Rebrikov told NPR during his first broadcast interview. "Why? Why [is it] unethical?"

Rebrikov wants to create babies from embryos whose DNA he would edit to protect the resulting children from HIV. Rebrikov would edit a gene called CCR5 to replicate a naturally occurring variation that protects people from HIV.

"The rationale is to guarantee that the baby will be HIV-negative — that's it," Rebrikov says.

The same rationale given by a Chinese scientist, He Jiankui, when he created the world's first gene-edited babies. The birth of the gene-modified twin Chinese girls last year triggered an international firestorm,...