October 22, 2002
On October 8, 2002, Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced in the Senate the ''Iraqi Scientists Liberation Act of 2002." We, the undersigned, urge you to support this bill.
The U.S. draft United Nations Security Council resolution on Iraq includes the provision that "UNMOVIC and the [International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] may at their discretion conduct interviews inside or outside Iraq, facilitate the travel of those interviewed and family members outside of Iraq, and that such interviews shall occur without the presence of [Iraqi] observers."
In addition, President Bush said in his October 7, 2002 speech referring to weapons inspections, "To ensure that we learn the truth, the regime must allow witnesses to its illegal [weapons] activities to be interviewed outside the country -- and these witnesses must be free to bring their families with them so they all beyond the reach of Saddam Hussein's terror and murder."
This effort is vital to ensuring the viability of any strengthened inspection regime. This approach would encourage the scientists' candor, and reward them for exposing illegal programs.
There are now some barriers to removing Iraqi weapons experts from Iraq. In most cases, Iraqi scientists would not want to return to Iraq after being interviewed abroad, and thus will need asylum. Only states can grant asylum and provide sufficient protection against reprisal. Under current U.S. law, no more than 100 experts and family members can be offered this protection each year. Many key Iraqi scientists and their families would be expected to leave Iraq.
Offering asylum would help the inspection process. Charles Duelfer, former Deputy Executive Director of UNSCOM, said recently of past inspection efforts, "The people are key to these programs. Access to the people under conditions where they could speak freely was not something UNSCOM ever achieved except in the rare instances of defection." He added, "If UNSCOM had 100 green cards to distribute during inspections, it could have quickly accounted for the weapons programs."
This legislation would also make it more difficult for Iraq to reconstitute its WMD and ballistic missile programs. If the Security Council required Iraq to allow his cadre of knowledgeable weapons scientists and their families to leave the country, Iraq would be much less able to reconstitute its WMD and ballistic missile programs. The vast majority of these experts have been identified through Iraqi documents and past inspections. The resettlement of even a few dozen nuclear scientists would devastate Saddam's ability to rebuild his nuclear weapons program. Other WMD programs would be similarly affected.
This legislation complements the process of creating a re-energized and strengthened inspection system. The United States must take a leadership role in supporting new initiatives to strengthen efforts to enforce UN Security Council resolutions. We urge you to support Senator Biden's effort toward this goal.
|David Albright, President, Institute for Science and International Security||Dr. William C. Potter, Director, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute for International Studies|
|Henry Kelly, President, Federation of American Scientists||Gary Milhollin, Director, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control|
|Frank von Hippel, Professor of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University|