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The US State Department has begun performing extra security checks on visa applications from scientists and technologists from around the world, delaying visa decisions by weeks and leading to the cancellation or rescheduling of several recent meetings.

Most heavily affected so far have been scientists from China and the former Soviet Union, who are involved in weapons research or other areas sensitive to national security.

Ironically, the new security measures could have negative impacts, making it more difficult for US government scientists to develop with non-proliferation programmes with the help of foreign researchers, and to discuss with them how to protect civilian populations from terrorist acts.

Routine scientific exchanges appear to be less affected by the additional security, however, with the US National Science Foundation reporting that its collaborations with foreign scientists have been unaffected.

Link to full Science news article

Source: Science 297, 1259 (2002)