Sanctions against Iranian scientists

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Scientific sanctions against Iranians include all actions taken to directly or indirectly suppress Iranian scientific community. United States and several other western countries, their scientific communities and companies have been actively involved in suppression of Iranian scientific community and the development of science and technology in Iran.

This page mainly covers those scientific suppressions that target Iranian nationals. The actions have generated huge body of concerns over ethics and human rights.

Central government sponsored scientific suppressions[edit]

In February 2004, the US Department of the Treasury has ruled that editing or publishing scientific manuscripts from Iran violates the trade embargo on this country. US publishers and scientific societies were divided over how to respond. IEEE, American Nuclear Society, the American Chemical Society and the American Society for Microbiology followed the policy.

At a meeting in Washington on 9 February, David Mills, the treasury official in charge of implementing the policy, told representatives of 30 publishers that anyone wanting to publish papers from Iran should seek a licence from the treasury department. He also suggested that US scientists collaborating with Iranians could be prosecuted.[1]

Florida Travel Act[edit]

In June 2006, the Florida Legislature passed the Florida Travel Act, which prevents state universities from funding travel to countries listed by the United States Department of State as state sponsors of terrorism. Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria currently receive this designation. Although the law does not prevent anyone from traveling to one of these countries, it does ban state-funded institutions from using their own funds to organize such travel, including funds provided by private sources. According to The Christian Science Monitor, this law was widely seen as a means of strengthening the US embargo against Cuba. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Travel Act. In 2008, a Federal judge ruled that the portions of the law restricting private funding for foreign travel were unconstitutional, but in 2010 the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court's ruling and reinstated the law. The court stated that private foundations could still fund travel to these countries by individuals affiliated with state colleges and universities as long as they did not involve those universities administratively.[1]

IEEE[edit]

IEEE publishes 30% of the world's literature on computing, electronics, and electrical engineering and has 380,000 members in 150 nations. In 2001 a routine fund transfer for a conference to be held in Iran was blocked by a financial institution due to OFAC (United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control) restrictions. After some analysis, IEEE in January 2002 informed members residing in Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan that, because of OFAC regulations, member benefits and services could not be provided, with the exception of print subscriptions to IEEE publications.[2] Members in Iran where thus restricted from, e.g. the use of the IEEE logo to promote activities, electronic access to publications, and access to job listings.[3] With 1700 IEEE members, Iran was severely hit by this restriction. Protest letters to IEEE were not immediately answered. The Institute reportedly also declined to respond to questions from Science.[3]

Subsequently, IEEE took steps to clarify the OFAC guidelines. In April 2004 they received a response which fully resolved that no licenses were needed for publishing works from Iran and that the entire IEEE publication process including peer review and editing was exempt from restrictions.[2]

Sharif University alumni denied entry into the US[edit]

More than 80 of those who were granted visas specifically to attend the 4th International Reunion and Conference of Sharif University of Technology Association (SUTA) in Santa Clara, CA in 2006 were denied entry into the US and were subjected to "inhumane and harsh treatment," including incarceration and chaining of them and their family members.

On August 14, 2006, Zahed Sheikholeslami, president of SUTA, wrote a letter to Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State, complaining about the unnecessarily harsh and humiliating treatment of Iranian professionals upon their recent attempt to legally enter the United States. [2]

SESAME project incident[edit]

Egyptian government refused to grant visa to 35 Iranian scientists who were invited to attend a gathering on the Synchrotron Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) project, held in Alexandria (2006). The invited Iranian scientists say they never heard from the Egyptian embassy in Tehran after submitting their visa applications at least 6 weeks beforehand. "If this is not hostile treatment, I don't know what is," says Reza Mansouri, a physicist at Sharif University in Tehran and one of two Iranian representatives on the SESAME council. Iranian contingents have attended four previous user meetings held elsewhere in the region.[3]

Criticism[edit]

A spokesperson for the American Geophysical Union, which has a dozen members in Iran, says AGU does not consider publishing to be a trade issue and "accepts paper submissions from anywhere in the world." The American Society of Mechanical Engineers echoes that view, as does AAAS, Science's publisher. "We do not put any restrictions on submission or publication of papers based on economic or other sanctions," says Monica Bradford, executive editor of Science.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richey, Warren (September 1, 2010). "No travel to 'terrorist' countries for Florida state universities: court". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved January 17, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "IEEE-OFAC background". 19 September 2003. 
  3. ^ a b c Gaffney (19 September 2003). "IEEE Under Fire for Withdrawing Iranian Members' Benefits". Science. 

External links[edit]