U.S. Offers Training, New Opportunities for Iraqi Scientists

Washington -- As part of its commitment to help Iraq get back on its feet following the war, the Bush administration has launched a program involving Iraq's top scientists, technicians and engineers, many of them overworked and underpaid.

According to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which is playing a lead role in the initiative, the program seeks not only to support reconstruction efforts but also aims at preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The program will complement other administration initiatives that seek to support reconstruction, and keep WMD from falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue nations.

NNSA Administrator Linton F. Brooks said the new program addresses the critical need to provide meaningful opportunities for all scientists in Iraq.

"Moreover, it is helping them rebuild Iraqi science and technology infrastructure and reintegrate Iraq into the international community," Brooks said.

NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency of the Department of Energy. It maintains the U.S. nuclear-weapons stockpile, promotes international nuclear nonproliferation and safety, reduces global danger from weapons of mass destruction, provides the U.S. with safe and effective nuclear propulsion, and oversees its national laboratories to maintain U.S. leadership in science and technology.

The new effort is in cooperation with the Arab Science and Technology Foundation and the Cooperative Monitoring Center at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

The program will also help rebuild key elements of Iraq's infrastructure, and promote business opportunities that provide sustainability to Iraqi science and technology.

The first phase of this long-term effort is completion of a survey of Iraq's current needs and resources.

Once the survey is completed, a workshop will convene in the region to bring together leading experts from Iraq, the United States, and the international science community. The object will be to begin work on several of the highest-priority projects facing Iraq.

The program is being implemented by an international partnership of scientists. It complements the State Department's recently established Iraqi International Center for Science and Industry and work by the Coalition Provisional Authority.

While the NNSA keeps a low profile -- few even know that it exists -- it is highly important to the world. It advises Congress, foreign governments and international organizations, including the UN Security Council and the International Energy Agency.

The NNSA's Office of International Nuclear Safety seeks to promote worldwide nuclear safety. Its core functions include leading the U.S. government program to shut down Russia's plutonium production. Plutonium is used in nuclear weapons and as a reactor fuel.

By Jim Shevis
Washington File Special Correspondent

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: