Skip to comments.Bioterror Scientists 'Infiltrated UK University Research Facilities'
Posted on 11/16/2002 3:38:46 PM PST by blam
Bioterror scientists 'infiltrated UK university research facilities'
By Andrew Johnson
17 November 2002
Iraqi scientists working on biological weapons infiltrated British research laboratories in the early 1990s, an Oxford scientist said last night. The revelations have led to calls for tighter vetting of overseas students.
At least 10 Iraqi scientists were accepted by university laboratories in the run-up to the Gulf War in 1992. Andrew Mackinlay, a Labour member of the foreign affairs select committee, told a Radio 4 programme to be broadcast this week that Britain is "extremely vulnerable" to infiltration by foreign scientists looking to use UK research facilities.
The Iraqi scientists were discovered after a leading microbiologist at Oxford University, Dr Joseph Selkon, became suspicious about one applicant. "He had a superb CV, he was going to work for us and we would receive £20,000 from the Iraqi government," said Dr Selkon, a retired director of the Oxford Laboratories Microbiology Laboratory.
But his team was working on a project to prevent bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, which is not a problem in Iraq, and he reported his worries. "I asked the security services to check whether this was just a one-off application to Oxford or part of a more general plan. They thought I was thinking science fiction ... But they found nine or 10 scientists who had already been accepted by universities across the country to work in the microbiology field."
He believes the Iraqis were working on biological weapons that would be resistant to standard treatments. They were arrested and deported at the outbreak of the Gulf War.