Reporters on the Job

• NO THANKS, I'LL PASS: Tracking down clerics, analysts, and former holy warriors in Saudi Arabia who will talk to a US journalist has been far from easy, says Scott Peterson (page 7) who has been working in the desert Kingdom for the past two weeks. He bumped into anti-American sentiments at almost every turn. "Views run the gamut from officials who moderately seek peace with Israel to those who unabashedly insist that Muslims are locked into a war with Jews and that suicide bombings are appropriate," he says.

"Even tracking down moderate sheikhs wasn't easy in this atmosphere, much less the hard-liners," Scott says. "Some politely declined. Others passed messages to say that they suspected all Western journalists to be agents of some kind or another and therefore had absolutely nothing to say."

• FEELING BETTER ABOUT NUKES: This wasn't reporter Fred Weir's first visit to the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow (this page). He's visited the nuclear research facility several times during the past decade. In 1993, the institute was so poor that the assistants who worked on the 12 experimental nuclear reactors here, had to take their protective clothing home to wash it." There were holes in the walls surrounding the facility in 1996 when Fred visited.

"This time, the guards were clean, sober, and well dressed," says Fred. The walls had been repaired, and topped with security cameras. "The US money has apparently made a difference. I can't vouch for the other storage facilities in Russia. But I was personally reassured about the security at this one."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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