Iran needs to present a united front on science

By | July 22, 2021

Iranian officials last month unveiled the Mustafa Science and Technology Awards for researchers from Islamic countries. The creation of the four prizes worth US$500,000 reflects the Iranian leadership of domestic science and the growing importance for nurturing scientific cooperation and exchanges with other countries.

The Iranian government has already developed a cadre of eminent scientists. State-run media regularly despise advances made by Iranian researchers, often new military systems. Iran hosted the fifth International Conference of Cognitive Sciences in Tehran last year. and Hesamdin Arfei, a physicist at the Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences in Tehran, to lecture at a meeting of the American Physical Society in April 2005 and to continue his efforts “to establish dialogue between Iranian scientists and visited the United States. International Scientific Community”. His visit was probably concluded with the blessings of the Iranian authorities.

But these efforts are being subverted by other sectors of Iran’s ruling establishment, determined to weed out ‘traitors’ among the country’s most promising scientists. As Iran’s interest in science and the demand for international cooperation grows, researchers abroad have the opportunity to shift the balance of power away from these radicals.

Too often, scientists in Iran fall prey to the imagination that a massive campaign by the US government (including the CIA), Israel’s Mossad and British intelligence services to undermine a ‘Velvet Revolution’ (Engelb-e Velvet) goes. Foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In order to achieve its objective, the forces behind the conspiracy have been recruited through academic exchanges to recruit high-profile Iranians, attract them to attend conferences abroad or invite them to reside in Western institutions. is charged with.

Radical Iranian newspapers and websites describe every known or imaginary contact between Iranian scholars and their European and American collaborators, no matter how benign, including research grants and visiting fellowships at universities and private foundations.

The plot about the Velvet Revolution, and the concomitant need to find and uncover ‘enemies’ – the higher profile the better – only serve the interests of security agencies and radicals, who can justify the power and scope of the wide (and) . expensive) security equipment by claiming its necessity as a shield against those aiming to destroy the country.

For example, physicist Omid Kokabi was arrested in 2011 on false charges of crimes against national security and sentenced to ten years in prison in 2012. Kokabi, who was pursuing a PhD in quantum optics at the University of Texas at Austin, resisted repeated invitations from Iranian officials to work on military and intelligence projects.

His claimed crimes were communicating with a hostile government and receiving illegitimate money—an apparent reference to the common stipends offered to graduate students at his university.

His case and others like it should have a chilling effect on other Iranian scientists engaged in legitimate negotiations with allies in the West. This hinders the progress of science in Iran and appears to be completely counterproductive to state-supported efforts to promote Iran’s scientific achievements internationally.

More moderate members of Iran’s ruling establishment certainly understand that the country’s successful integration into the global community is undermined if its best and brightest scholars fear the consequences of engaging in normal dialogue with allies abroad.

The reality of Iran’s ‘brain drain’ problem was recognized by its Minister of Science and Technology, Reza Faraji Dana, who noted in January: “Each year, about 150,000 of our elites emigrate from Iran, affecting our economy. $150 billion in damages.”

The harsh punishments imposed on Kokabi and others have led Iran to condemn not only human rights organizations campaigning on its behalf, but also scientific and scholarly societies – including the American Physical Society, with which the country would otherwise Engaged in conversation. To improve opportunities for collaboration.

Scientific diplomacy can help build bridges and reduce international tensions. ‘Which Iran would we choose?’ published by The Worldpost in December In an article titled, academics Trita Parsi, Bijan Khajehpur and Reza Marashi argued that continued engagement with Iran on science projects “could spread to other important areas, such as the human rights situation”.

An essential pre-condition for such cooperation should be the right of scientists to engage in their normal professional activities without any harassment. Iran’s scientists, its population and the wider scientific community will all benefit from Kokabi’s release.