BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Spanish Portuguese Caribbean
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Americas  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Thursday, 21 November, 2002, 13:00 GMT
Green cards to lure Iraqi scientists
Iraqi missiles
Iraq says it has nothing to hide
The United States is offering a fast track to American citizenship for Iraqi scientists willing to blow the whistle on Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD).


The emigration from Iraq of key scientists, engineers and technicians could substantially disable Hussein's programmes to produce weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them

Iraqi Scientists Immigration Act
Under the Iraqi Scientists Immigration Act of 2002, passed by the Senate on Wednesday, up to 500 scientists could be given green cards if they reveal critical information on weapons programmes.

The bill, which could be passed by the House of Representatives as early as Friday, applies to scientists, engineers and technicians.

The move comes as an advance team of United Nations weapons inspectors are in Iraq laying the groundwork for the resumption of inspections.

Open in new window : Iraq spotlight
Click to see maps of Iraq's suspected weapons sites

It is hoped that the bill, which was proposed by Senator Joseph Biden in October, could have a two-fold effect:

  • Firstly, it would reveal details of weapons of mass destruction, which Washington firmly believes Iraq has been developing.

  • Secondly it would drain Iraq of key experts, vital to any such weapon programme that might be underway.

"The emigration from Iraq of key scientists, engineers and technicians could substantially disable Hussein's programmes to produce weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them," the bill states.

Eligibility requirements

The bill openly works on the assumption that Saddam Hussein does have a secret weapons programme - a charge Iraq vehemently denies.

To be eligible for the scheme arms specialists must have worked in a programme to deliver WMD since 16 December 1998.

Inspection timetable
8 Dec: Iraq must reveal all programmes, plants and materials which could be used for weapons production
23 Dec: Inspections must have resumed
21 Feb: Inspectors to report to UN Security Council

They must also volunteer "critical, reliable information" which could provide evidence that despite its denials Iraq is working to build or deliver chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

If so, they and their immediate families would be able to bypass normal immigration procedures and take up permanent residence in the US.

But the number who could be accepted has been capped at 500 scientists, and anyone failing to meet the requirements will fail to qualify.

Under the bill the US Secretary of State and Attorney General would control the resettlement programme.

Defector's support

Mr Biden thinks the bill will bolster the work of UN inspectors, investigating whether Iraq does have WMD.

"With this bill, the United States can help ensure that weapons inspectors and the United States have access to crucial information, by protecting the people who can provide it and by safeguarding their families," Mr Biden said.

Hans Blix
Hans Blix and his UN team have already held talks in Baghdad

In 1994, Khidhir Hamza, an American-trained senior Iraqi nuclear scientist, left Iraq having grown disenchanted with the regime there.

He eventually made it to America, where he revealed valuable details on Iraqi attempts to hide its weapons programmes.

In 2000, Mr Hamza wrote Saddam's Bomb Maker - an autobiographical account outlining his role in the Iraqi weapons programme.

In the book, Mr Hamza concluded that the best way to ensure that Saddam Hussein was blocked from developing WMD was to stop Russian scientists entering Iraq and help Iraqi scientists escape.


Key stories

Analysis

CLICKABLE GUIDE

BBC WORLD SERVICE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
See also:

18 Nov 02 | Americas
14 Nov 02 | Middle East
18 Nov 02 | Middle East
07 Mar 02 | Middle East
24 Sep 02 | Politics
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes