Petition in support of immediate reversal of US Government Policy on Publication Ban form Trade Embargoed Countries including IRAN sign now

Petition in support of immediate reversal of US Government Policy on Publication Ban form Trade Embargoed Countries including IRAN

We, the signatories herein, comprised of concerned citizens including members of the scientific community in the USA and other countries, are appalled and outraged to witness the unilateral economic sanctions of 1998 and its ruling by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that effectively prohibits publication of scientific papers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Cuba, all of which are under U.S. trade embargoes. We do, however, trustfully anticipate that with feedbacks as exemplified by this petition and the actions taken by the professional and learned societies as typified by the American Chemical Society, IEEE (http://www.ieee.org ) and AAAS (http://www.aaas.org) , and publishers of scientific periodicals, that the Government will reverse this outdated policy immediately.

Under current policy, violation of the trade embargo law with respect to accepting paper for publication can result in a fine of up to $50,000 per case, and imprisonment for up to 10 years for a US publisher. This has prompted a recent meeting convened by the publishers in Washington D.C. during which they resolved a set of clear actions in order to expeditiously resolve this mis-guided policy. It has also yielded similar editorials (http://pubs.acs.org/isubscribe/journals/cen/82/i04/html/8204edit.html) and writings by scientists (http://pubs.acs.org/isubscribe/journals/cen/81/i50/html/8150lett.html) on the topic. Amongst such efforts the American Chemical Society (http://www.chemistry.org), that has provided leadership on removing this policy, has in 2003 received 195 scientific papers originating from the aforementioned five countries, with the bulk, 170, coming from Iran.
The scientific community is unanimously resolved to consider such policy anti-science, anti-American and in possible violation of our first amendment; that is, against the principles on which the U.S. was founded. Let us remind ourselves of a recent trip by the President of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (http://www.nationalacademies.org) to Iran where they surprisingly found out the two-third of the college students of nearly two millions, especially in the sciences, engineering and medicine to be female, and where 75\% of the nearly seventy population to be under 25 years of age, born on or after the revolution of 1979 that yielded the current political system. This is also the county that has brought advancement of peace through its recent citizen, Ms. Shirin Ebadi, as its Peace Nobel Laureate.

Whereas one might argue for exerting political and economic pressure and persuasion on another government to ensure it conforms to our principles of democracy, freedom, free trade, and foreign policy objectives, it is, nonetheless, hypocritical and thus disturbing to curtail the free flow of scientific exchange simultaneously. Let us bear in mind that in the midst of the Cold War, for instance, Andrei Sakharovs and Anatoly Sharanskys were not punitively penalized for having been born and worked in a country run by a political system we did not then favor. In retrospect, one should easily discern their critical role in the evolution of that society; their open exchange of scholarly pursuits with their western, albeit American peers, which was never halted, was an underpinning catalyst toward sociopolitical reforms. Ironically, many of the professors and scientists in Iran for instance, were educated in the West, especially in the U.S.

According to a recent Science Watch (http://www.sciencewatch.com/nov-dec2003/sw_nov-dec2003_page1.htm), Iran has become the second country after Egypt in the Middle East (excluding Israel, which is substantially larger in volume) in terms of number of scientific publications, especially in chemistry, neuroscience, and materials science. In just the past 10 years, Iranian scholars have nearly quadrupled their previous records. Isn't it paradoxical to regressively penalize the youth, the scientists, and the progressive reform-minded elements there simply because we aspire to see a change in the political system?

Rhetorically speaking, has it not history taught us that critical engagement and effective communications among the world citizens are much more effective tools for bringing about CHANGE when compared to isolation and conservatism that might only lead to a sense of disillusionment and disenfranchisement among ordinary citizens in other countries?
Finally, when our government resorts to such shortsighted measures, the ramifications undermine the professional and personal aspirations of nearly 1 million Iranian Americans, including tens of thousands in the scientific and academic realms in the US (http://www.ica-acs.org, http://www.bozorganeiran.com/index.htm, www.antidiscrimination.org, www.niacouncil.org.)

Epitomizing, we the signatories herein representing the vast majority of law abiding and peace loving citizens of the this country would once again reaffirm our commitment to make whatever legal, civil and measures necessary in order to witness this policy revoked immediately. Our respected US Government Officials in the Executive and Legislative Branches in particular, are to exhibit their bold progressive leadership on the matter.

Respectfully submitted,

David N. Rahni, Ph.D. et al (see the list of signatories and their own comments)
Professor of Chemistry
Adjunct Professor of Environmental Science
Pace University, New York
Adjunct Professor, Dermatology, New York Medical College
Senior Medical Research Scientist, CUNY Medical School Harlem, New York
www.DrRahni.com

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Raymond HintonBy:
TelecommunicationsIn:
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US Government

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