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2400 U.S. Scientists Warn USSR

March 7, 1979
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More than 2400 American scientists, including 13 Nobel Laureates, have announced that they will severely restrict their cooperation with the Soviet Union as their response to the imprisonment of Yuri Orlov and Anatoly Shelaransky to long terms for monitoring Soviet adherence to international agreements on human rights. The group is calling itself SOS, Scientists for Orlov and Shchoransky.

“No step of this magnitude and character has ever been undertaken by American scientists,” the group said in a statement accompanying the names of the pledging scientists. The ad hoc group includes 113 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 past or present directors of major scientific laboratories, and past or present president of 20 major scientific organizations.

Signers included 40 percent of the physics and mathematics departments at the University of California in Berkeley, and 25 percent of the faculty at the California Institute of technology. The group includes scientists, engineers and computer specialists. Orlov and Shchoransky are colleagues in their fields. The majority of the 2400 scientists said, according to the announcement, that they would “withhold all personal cooperation with the Soviet Union until Orlov and Shcharansky are released.”

Some of the signers said they do not foreclose their participation in existing exchange programs but would not attend international conferences in the Soviet Union, will oppose the enlargement of U.S. Soviet exchanges and will campaign against the transfer of sophisticated technology to the Soviet Union. Nobel Laureate Christian Anfinsen of the National Institutes of, Health pointed out that “the Orlov and Shcharansky cases were the final straws that broke the camel’s back.”

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