"Brain drain," much discussed during the 1960s when the Third World's best and brightest scientists were being lured away to the United States, carries sinister overtones when applied to nuclear technologists from the former Soviet Union. That's why the Americans are not the only ones trying to prevent it. Germany's Hans-Dietrich Genscher recently signed an accord with his Japanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Michio Watanabe, to support an international center that Americans have pushed to help the bomb specialists keep working while they convert to more peaceful pursuits.
Having watched the specter of nuclear holocaust recede along with the Cold War, no one in the industrialized world wants to see it reborn as a terrorist threat. Such a threat could come from the unstable government of a Third World strongman or even from a yet-to-be-recognized guerrilla group.
It could happen. The Tajikistan newspaper Narodnaya Gazeta reports that uranium for Soviet nuclear bombs was mined in that newly independent republic, where the paper says a uranium enrichment facility is still in place. The German magazine Stern recently said Tajikistan had sold uranium to Libya, a claim denied by the Tajik President Rakhman Nabiyev during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State James Baker. It is known that Iran, for one, has been wooing the Tajiks. U.S. Sen. Larry Pressler, R-S.D., FTC believes Pakistanis are trying to build an "Islamic bomb," possibly to be shared with a planned Islamic federation to include their country, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran and five former Soviet Muslim republics.