The need to impede access to sensitive weapons technology, materiel, and expertise by proliferant states and terrorist networks worldwide is an objective of the current U.S. National Security Strategy, National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction, and National Strategy for Combating Terrorism. The growing global threat to U.S. national security from available WMD-relevant expertise prompted Congress to broaden to countries beyond the Former Soviet Union the State Department's legislative authorities for WMD redirection efforts. The new program name, "Nonproliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Expertise (NWMDE)," encompasses the programs formerly referred to as "Science Centers/Bio Redirection" and reflects this broader authority.
Anecdotal reports persist of former Soviet scientists, especially those in Central Asia and the Caucasus, being approached by officials from proliferant states. Further, a 2003 survey of Russian scientists with weapons expertise found that 20 percent of respondents would consider working in North Korea, Syria, Iran, or Iraq for a year or more. Comparable WMD proliferation concerns are emerging in other parts of the world where there are scientists and technicians with WMD-relevant know-how. The State Department was called on to address the current situation with the former Iraqi weapon science and technology community, and we anticipate that similar situations could arise in the future.
This program supports the engagement and permanent redirection of former weapon scientists worldwide. It has three distinct sub-programs, the Science Centers program, the Bio-Chem Redirection program, and the Bio Industry Initiative. These are the largest U.S. efforts to gain access to and redirect former WMD scientists. For biological weapons/chemical weapons (BW/CW) scientists at certain foreign institutes, these are the only U.S. government programs engaging and redirecting them to peaceful civilian work and the only programs that provide the United States access and transparency to activities underway in those institutes. While employing different mechanisms and approaches, these programs share a common strategy: to access and engage high-risk former weapon institutes while helping these institutes and their scientists move from dependency to self-sustainability. Moreover, these programs provide steady, effective, and cost-efficient platforms for other U.S. nonproliferation/threat reduction programs.