“I also want to thank Daryl Kimball and the Arms Control Association for allowing me to address all of you today and for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war.”

– Joseph Biden, Jr.
January 28, 2004
U.S. Plan Addresses Possible Spread of WMD Expertise from Iraq

The Department of State is developing programs to address concerns that Iraqi scientists, engineers, and technicians may assist other countries with their weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. One such initiative, the “Science, Technology and Engineering Mentorship Initiative for Iraq,” was sketched out in a recent State Department draft proposal obtained by Arms Control Today. The program would provide grants to Iraqi scientists for research and development activities at “institutions of higher education” and aim to lay the groundwork for the development of Iraqi basic science research.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Nov. 17 that Washington is “looking at programs to redirect [Iraqi personnel] with expertise in [WMD] technology to peaceful civilian employment.” Similar to existing programs the United States conducts with former Soviet weapons scientists, these proposed programs are designed to “keep Iraqi scientists from providing expertise to other countries…[and] to enable them to serve the economic rebuilding of Iraq,” Boucher said.

A State Department official interviewed Nov. 19 said the department began planning for the programs shortly after the end of major hostilities in Iraq, which President George W. Bush announced May 1.