Committee on Science


Ralph M. Hall, Texas, Ranking Democrat

October 17, 2000

Press Contacts:

Jeff Lungren (

Jeff Donald (

(202) 225-4275

Sensenbrenner: The Administration stands by idly and offers nonsensical explanations condoning Russia’s unacceptable behavior

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The NASA Inspector General just released a report indicating NASA failed to heed warnings about the space agency’s cooperation with
institutes involved in Russia’s biological weapons programs. This report comes amid widespread evidence that, as the CIA’s August 9, 2000 “721 Report” on
proliferation notes, “Russian entities remain a significant source of biotechnology and chemicals for Iran.”

House Science Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., (R-WI) stated, “The Administration continues to look the other way when it comes to Russia’s
violation of nonproliferation norms. This report by the NASA Inspector General confirms that taxpayer funds entrusted to NASA ended up in the hands of Russian
scientists engaged in researching the development of biological weapons. NASA’s lack of vigilance is unforgivable.”

Chairman Sensenbrenner added, “Last week NASA lawyers presented a twisted and tortured interpretation of the Rohrabacher Amendment to the Iran
Nonproliferation Act of 2000 for the sole purpose of gutting the measure’s attempts to halt Russian assistance to Iran. This absurd assertion was followed by
Friday’s public revelation that the Administration has been aware for months of continued sales of conventional weapons to Iran from Russia this year. Rather than
stand up to the Russians for harming U.S. security interests, the Administration stands by idly and offers nonsensical explanations condoning Russia’s unacceptable

The NASA Inspector General’s Memorandum, entitled, “NASA Oversight of Russian Biotechnology Research 1994-1997”, G-00-007, which is available on the
Inspector General’s home page at made several key findings. Notably, the Inspector General found that “three proposals for
research at institutes on the State Department’s Priority List of former Soviet Union Biological Weapons Institutes were funded without review by NASA, months
after NASA received guidance from the State Department that listed ‘careful vetting of biotech proposals’ as one of two key steps to minimize concerns when
working with such institutes.”

Moreover, according to the Inspector General, “Despite guidance to the contrary from the State Department, NASA did not regularly visit and participate in research
it was funding at Russian institutes that had been part of the Soviet biological warfare program. NASA only briefly visited two institutes and no site visits were
scheduled following the receipt of guidance from the State Department.” The Inspector General’s memorandum concluded, “when the State Department provided
NASA with guidelines on working with potential dual-use biotechnology research, NASA did not follow these guidelines. Moreover, NASA exerted minimal oversight
over the research program.”