Let the Iraqi Nuclear Scientists Leave: Science group says current Iraqi crisis shows need to put tougher conditions in place

by David Albright and Kevin O'Neill

November 3, 1997

The current crisis between Iraq and the United States over U.S. participation in United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections in Iraq demonstrates the vulnerability of these inspections to political pressures, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said today. According to ISIS President David Albright, the U.N. should begin considering additional measures to be placed on Iraq that would remain in effect once sanctions are eventually removed.

“It is time to start considering additional measures to constrain Iraq’s capability to resume its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” said ISIS President David Albright. “These measures must be considered before sanctions are lifted.”

ISIS has recommended one such measure. In a statement released to the press today, ISIS urges the U.N. Security Council to adopt measures that would force Iraq to allow its cadre of nuclear scientists to leave the country without fear of reprisal to themselves or their families. According to the statement, “the resettlement of even a few dozen key scientists would devastate Saddam’s ability to rebuild his nuclear weapons program” once sanctions are lifted.

“The crisis shows the need for continued vigilance by the international community, and the importance of measures to strengthen and reinforce the inspection regime,” said Albright. “Saddam Hussein’s nuclear scientists are his most important asset,” he added.

The statement, which is being prepared for publication in a forthcoming issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, was released to diplomats at the U.N. Security Council and to senior UNSCOM and IAEA officials before the current crisis erupted last week.

The two-page statement is attached.

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