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Area scientists speak out against war

Area scientists speak

out against war

By Prabhat Mehta

Area scientists last Thursday called on President George Bush to seek a peaceful settlement to the crisis in the Persian Gulf. "We call on the Administration to alter its policy and to rely on sanctions coupled with negotiations to end Iraq's occupation of Kuwait," began the statement, initiated by MIT Professors Aron M. Bernstein, Herman Feschbach PhD '42, Jonathan A. King, Vera Kistiakowsky and Heather N. Lechtman and signed by over 100 scientists and engineers from colleges, universities and corporations in the Boston area.

The scientists presented their statement at a press conference at Cambridge City Hall Thursday morning. The statement condemned Iraq's invasion and subsequent annexation of Kuwait and supported the use of sanctions and the deployment of defensive forces in the region. But the group opposed aggressive military action to expel Iraq from Kuwait, citing the "grave penalties in loss of life on both sides and in destruction in the Mid-East."

In addition, the group felt that "[a]t home, scarce resources which are badly needed for important domestic programs are being needlessly diverted by the military buildup."

Institute Professor Emeritus Feschbach, Professor of Biology King and Professor of Physics Kistiakowsky were joined by Harvard chemistry professor Dudley Hershbach, Brandeis biochemistry professor Thomas Hollocher, Institute for Peace and International Security (IPIS) director Paul F. Walker PhD '78 and Cambridge Mayor Alice Wolf at the Thursday press conference.

In an interview yesterday, King said scientists from around the world are now contacting him to express support for the group's anti-war efforts. The Boston-area scientists are now preparing to expand efforts at contacting scientists from around the world, he added. "The initial group of Boston-area scientists is now forming a clearinghouse to serve concerned colleagues both nationally and internationally," King said.

Walker of the IPIS will be responsible for keeping track of the group's supporters, King said. The group is supporting such measures as direct political pressure on White House and congressional officials as well as demonstrations and teach-ins.

The group will call for a day of "nationally coordinated action" on March 4 if war persists and peace is not at hand, King said. The particular date of March 4 marks the anniversary of similar activity initiated by scientists against the Vietnam War in 1969.