1
Introduction

During the late 1990s, the National Academies began exploring the opportunities for facilitating non-governmental engagement between American and Iranian scientists, engineers, and health professionals (herein referred to as “scientists,” with science, engineering, and/or health referred to as “science”). The first formal step toward engagement was a visit to the National Academies by leaders of the Iranian Academy of Sciences and Academy of Medical Sciences in 2000. By 2002, significant engagement activities under the auspices of the National Academies had become a reality. Joint activities sponsored by the National Academies and a variety of Iranian partner organizations continued through 2009, with occasional short-term interruptions due both to unanticipated political concerns (e.g., Iranian objections to U.S. fingerprinting requirements at ports of entry, U.S. Department of Treasury denials of licenses required for selected activities) and to administrative difficulties (e.g., delays in processing visa approvals in both capitals, unanticipated competing commitments of key U.S. or Iranian participants in projects).

As discussed in Chapter 5, the National Academies intend to continue the program of joint workshops and to develop other types of engagement activities as well, depending on the political situation. The scientific themes of mutual interest as well as the feasibility of implementation have been under discussion in Washington and Tehran. At the same time, the future of the U.S.-Iranian governmental relationship that influences science engagement activities remain uncertain.



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1 Introduction During the late 1990s, the National Academies began exploring the opportunities for facilitating non-governmental engagement between American and Iranian scientists, engineers, and health professionals (herein referred to as “scientists,” with science, engineering, and/or health referred to as “science”). The first formal step toward engagement was a visit to the National Academies by leaders of the Iranian Academy of Sciences and Academy of Medical Sciences in 2000. By 2002, significant engagement activities under the auspices of the National Academies had become a reality. Joint activities sponsored by the National Academies and a variety of Iranian partner organizations continued through 2009, with occasional short-term interruptions due both to unanticipated political concerns (e.g., Iranian objections to U.S. fingerprinting requirements at ports of entry, U.S. Department of Treasury denials of licenses required for selected activities) and to administrative difficulties (e.g., delays in processing visa approvals in both capitals, unanticipated competing commitments of key U.S. or Iranian participants in projects). As discussed in Chapter 5, the National Academies intend to continue the program of joint workshops and to develop other types of engagement activities as well, depending on the political situation. The scientific themes of mutual interest as well as the feasibility of implementation have been under discussion in Washington and Tehran. At the same time, the future of the U.S.-Iranian governmental relationship that influences science engagement activities remain uncertain. 

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 U.S.­IRAN ENGAGEMENT IN SCIENCE, ENGINEERING, AND HEALTH STATEMENT OF TASk This report responds to the following Statement of Task, which was prepared by the leadership of the National Research Council in December 2009: The report will document the history of the National Academies’ coopera­ tion with Iran oer the past 0 years. It will describe the nature of the workshops, pilot projects, indiidual isits in both directions, continu­ ing consultations, and types of relationships that hae been deeloped and hae flourished between U.S. and Iranian scientists, engineers, and health professionals during this period. It will comment on the significance and impact of the actiities, practical considerations in carrying out actiities, and opportunities for future work. Thus, the report looks both to the past and to the future. Of special interest are activities that can be undertaken to strengthen and build on the embryonic foundation for sustained scientific cooperation that began to form during the past decade. The evolution and characteristics of that foundation are significant themes of this report. bROAD INTERESTS IN SCIENCE ENgAgEMENT This report describes the most important components of the program of the National Academies to promote U.S.-Iran science engagement dur- ing the first decade of the 21st century. This engagement has been based primarily on the personal scientific interests of the U.S. and Iranian partici- pants. More than 500 scientists from more than 80 institutions in the two countries have actively contributed to the jointly organized workshops and other types of exchanges. However, these core participants are but a small portion of the scientists and others in the two countries who have been interested in the program. More than 500 other scientists from Iran and the United States have also met with exchange visitors. These other scientists have consulted with visit- ing specialists after guest lectures, during tours of educational and research facilities, and at receptions and other hospitality events. The overall number of scientists and students from the two countries who have attended guest lectures in person or via the Internet has been in the thousands. Also in Iran, hundreds of copies of reports of the activities—particularly Proceedings of

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 INTRODUCTION workshops published by the National Academies—have been provided to partner organizations for circulation to a number of interested readers. Of special importance, government officials in Washington and Tehran endorsed in principle, and sometimes in detail, each of the joint activities before they were undertaken. They have included Secretaries of State and Ministers of Foreign Affairs who were briefed on the overall program and on near-term events. Reportedly, the Supreme Leader and two successive Presi- dents of Iran have taken a personal interest in some aspects of the program. More junior officials in both countries have had responsibilities for approvals of visas. Others have been involved in ensuring compliance of exchanges with regulations in the two countries. A few influential political and scientific leaders in both countries have been outspoken advocates of the program. Some supporters have had long-standing interests in encouraging cross-border approaches for using scientific achievements to help address difficult economic, environmental, health, and other challenges of both local and international importance. Others have become newly minted advocates of exchanges based on their initial rewarding experiences with colleagues from a distant country. A number of Iranian-American supporters who have strong roots in both countries have long urged expanded science engagement. A few scientists in both countries have expressed their desire to the National Academies to participate in engagement efforts in order to contribute to positive changes in the U.S.-Iranian political relationship.1 THE SCIENTIFIC-POLITICAL NExuS The primary objective of the National Academies in the engagement effort has been to achieve scientific benefits for both sides and for the international scientific community more broadly. The activities have been designed to enable scientists from the two countries to share the benefits that can be derived from cooperation in science education, research, and applications. At the same time, the National Academies and their Iranian partners have attempted to keep the fields of cooperation outside the bound- aries of national security interests, lest security sensitivities raise concerns about the overall purpose of the program and thereby make cooperation more difficult. Of course, at times these boundaries have been uncertain. Nevertheless, participants from both countries seem to have been reasonably confident that the activities have remained within the province of peaceful and appropriate uses of science.

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 U.S.­IRAN ENGAGEMENT IN SCIENCE, ENGINEERING, AND HEALTH While the focus of the National Academies has been on the scientific aspects of engagement, it has not been possible to insulate U.S.-Iranian exchanges from the strained relationship that has existed between the two governments for many years. At times, the linkages between non- governmental engagement and the bilateral political relationship have been quite obvious. They have been most evident during the process of gaining various approvals for specific activities when approvals have been necessary or desirable in Tehran and in Washington. This political-scientific nexus will probably gain even greater importance in the near term as major steps toward political rapprochement continue to elude the two governments and as all aspects of the bilateral relationship are increasingly scrutinized in the two capitals. Of particular concern for the future of exchange activities are (a) expansion of the scope of U.N. and U.S. economic sanctions, and (b) continuation of harsh measures by the Iranian Government to control dissension following the 2009 election. Such developments may cause the National Academies and partner organiza- tions in Iran to consider modifying or even scrapping some approaches to engagement that they have used successfully in the past (e.g., participation by exchange visitors in unscheduled private dinners without informing well in advance the formal hosts for the visits, who may have security-imposed requirements concerning ad hoc activities). The National Academies and partner organizations in Iran have usu- ally been optimistic that bilateral cooperation in science contributes to the evolution of more favorable environments in both countries for reaching agreement on bilateral or multilateral issues that are politically sensitive. To this end, plans for cooperation and on-the-ground activities involving both prominent scientists and academic leaders from the two countries, and at times younger scientists, have usually received favorable assessments within the governments of Iran and the United States, despite political disputes between the governments that dominated the newspaper headlines at the same time. In any event, hopes have been high among many scientists and some important officials in the two countries that the engagement effort will continue despite the rough waters ahead. SCOPE OF REPORT As previously noted, the report focuses primarily on specific science engagement activities. (See Table 1-1.) The report does not attempt to analyze (a) the evolution of the broader political, economic, and security

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TABLE 1-1 Time Lines for Engagement Activities Meetings between Workshops visits to Iran by Nobel Laureates Academy Leaders from Ecology of Caspian Sea, Moscow (1999)a (preliminary workshop) F. Sherwood Rowland, Chemistry (2000) both Countries Experiences and Challenges of Science and Ethics, Bellagio, Italy Joseph Taylor, Physics (2007) Washington (2000) (2002) Thomas Shelling, Economics (2008) Tehran (2001) Higher Education, Tehran (2002) Burton Richter, Physics (2008) Tourtour, France (2003) Ecology of Caspian Sea, Ramsar, Iran (2002) Washington (2005) Water Conservation, Reuse, and Recycling, Tunis (2002) Fields of Individual Travelers Tourtour (2006) Food Safety and Food-borne Disease Surveillance Systems, Tehran To Iran Tehran (2007) (2004) Science Policy Tehran (2008) Drought Forecasting and Management, Tehran (2005) Science and Religion Roots and Routes of Democracy and Extremism, Haikko, Finland Physics Joint Planning Meetings (2005)a Earthquake Science and Engineering Earthquake Science and Science, Technology, and Future Development of Societies, Tourtour Geology Engineering, Tehran (2006)a Epidemiology (2002) Research and Higher Education, Tehran (2007) Food Safety, Education, Science as a Gateway to Understanding, Tehran (2007)a To the United States and Energy, Tourtour Food-borne Diseases and Public Health, Washington (2007)b Science Policy (2003) Energy Challenges, Tehran (2008) Science and Religion Food-borne Diseases, Water Management, Irvine, California (2008)b Physics Tehran (2005) Seismic Performance of Adobe and Masonry Structures, Tehran (2008) Cancer Food-borne Diseases, Improving Earthquake Mitigation through Innovation in Seismic Drug Addiction Tehran (2006) Science (2009)b Political Science Cancer, Houston (2006) Managing Environmental Crises, Haikko (2009)a Science, Ethics, and Appropriate Uses of Technology, Tourtour (2009)a Staff Consultations: Annually 1999 to 2008 (All in Iran) a Participants from Third Countries. b  Component of International Visitor Program.

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 U.S.­IRAN ENGAGEMENT IN SCIENCE, ENGINEERING, AND HEALTH relationship between the United States and Iran, or (b) internal unrest within Iran, including allegations in Iran that the United States has been using exchanges as one means of creating turmoil within Iran and thereby help foment a velvet revolution. Of course the bilateral relationship, which has been on a downward slide, and the volatile political situation within Iran have influenced engagement activities. A number of U.S. policies are critically important for science engage- ment programs. For example, restrictions on exports, limitations on financial transactions involving Iranians and Iranian institutions, and requirements for licenses from the Department of Treasury for some activities were not designed, at least in the first instance, to control science engagement. But their reach now extends to encompass some types of such cooperation. These and other important policies are briefly discussed, particularly in Chapter 1. However, the report leaves to others the detailed analyses of political and security challenges within and between the countries during the first decade of the 21st century.2 Other U.S. nongovernmental organizations have also supported science- related U.S.-Iran cooperative activities. Inventories of such programs have not been undertaken and made public—at least in the United States—since some organizations prefer not to publicize their activities. The most exten- sive U.S.-Iranian science-related programs in recent years have probably been those organized (a) by Iranian-American scientists individually, (b) by professional associations of Iranian-Americans, (c) by private firms inter- ested in trade, (d) by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which have consistently supported both Iranian researchers at NIH for one or two years and American scientists working with collaborators in Iran on projects of considerable scientific interest, and (e) by U.S. universities, with Iranian students and Iranian-American faculty members playing prominent roles.3 Iranian-American scientists have also played significant roles in the activities of the National Academies. In recent years important science-related events have been supported in Iran by a number of international organizations (e.g., UNDP, UNESCO, WHO, FAO, UNCTAD, UNIDO), development banks (e.g., the World Bank), and regional organizations (e.g., Economic Cooperation Organization based in Tehran). These events, together with reports by Iranian and foreign journalists, have been helpful in clarifying for the international community some of the science-related development challenges in Iran.4 They have pro- vided information within Iran and abroad on the strengths and weaknesses of organizational approaches of Iranian science and on specific technical

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 INTRODUCTION issues. They have documented the priorities within science that have been established by the Iranian Government. Also, they have highlighted the long and complex road ahead that could provide continuing access of Iran to international technological developments and to worldwide experiences in using these developments for economic and social progress. (See Appendices H and I for indicators of the extent of the Iranian research establishment and the enrollment in science in universities.) The international conferences have provided opportunities for American and other foreign specialists to travel to Iran and, while there, to become acquainted with developments at a few research, engineering, and medical facilities. The report draws on observations by some of the participants in these activities. Finally, each year Iranian government and academic institutions also organize a number of large conferences, primarily in Tehran, that include discussions of scientific issues of international importance. Occasionally American specialists participate in these conferences, particularly Iranian- Americans. The National Academies have encouraged, but not supported financially, attendance at these gatherings, which attract many Iranian officials and international specialists in selected fields. They usually involve side visits to important institutions. Such opportunities are briefly discussed in Chapter 5. AuDIENCE FOR THIS REPORT A number of American and Iranian researchers, scientific leaders, and university administrators may be interested in this report. It highlights the types of cooperative activities and topical areas that have been of mutual interest in recent years. It provides insights as to the opportunities and pitfalls in organizing exchange activities. U.S. government officials are also likely to be interested since some activities that are discussed overlap with U.S. government priorities for engagement. As of mid-2010, the U.S. government’s interest in having mul- tiple channels of communication with various segments of Iranian societies through exchanges remained strong. If activities are expanded when the post-election environment in Tehran becomes more favorable for exchange programs, the commentaries on the activities in this report should be helpful in developing future programs. Finally, the report may be of interest to advocates of science diplomacy, foreign policy specialists, and science historians. With a few exceptions, the readily accessible English-language literature concerning the long history of

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 U.S.­IRAN ENGAGEMENT IN SCIENCE, ENGINEERING, AND HEALTH U.S.-Iranian cooperation in science is limited. Among the previous docu- mentation are brief discussions of training of Iranian nuclear engineers in the United States, references to U.S. foreign assistance several decades ago, and reports of narrowly focused joint activities related to the Bam earthquake, dwindling biological resources of the Caspian Sea, archeological treasures of Persia, and medical achievements of Persia and then Iran. This report complements the writings of others with an up-to-date window for viewing some previously undocumented aspects of science-related developments in Iran, which have formed the basis for bilateral cooperation. END NOTES 1. For strong endorsement of the concept of science diplomacy, see: Partnership for a Secure America, “Science Diplomacy Is Crucial to U.S. Foreign Policy,” Washington, D.C., February 2010, www.psaonline.org/article.php?id=0. 2. Many books and reports have provided useful background concerning developments in Iran. They include, for example: Wilfried Buchta, Who Rules Iran? The Structure of Power in the Islamic Republic, Washington Institute for Near East Policy (in col- laboration with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung), Washington, D.C., 2000; Daniel Doktori et al., Iran, Journal of International Affairs, Columbia University, New York, Spring/Summer 2007; Keith Crane, Rollie Lal, and Jeffrey Martini, Iran’s Political, Demographic, and Economic Vulnerabilities, The Rand Corporation, 2008; Middle East Institute, The Iran Reolution at 0, Institute Viewpoints, Washington, D.C., 2009; David E. Thaler et al, Mullahs, Guards, and Bonyads: An Exploration of Iranian Leadership Dynamics, The Rand Cooperation, 2010. 3. For more than a decade, the Iranian Academic Association, established in 1995 and headquartered in New York, was a particularly active organization in organizing workshops in Iran and the United States, facilitating student exchanges, and assisting with visas. Its activities overlapped in a number of ways the interests of the National Academies in fields such as traffic accidents, water resources and agriculture, and biomedical engineering. www.IranianAA.org. 4. For an insightful assessment of important components of the science and technology infrastructure of Iran, see United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Iran: Science, Technology, and Innoation Policy Reiew, United Nations, New York and Geneva, 2005. An important conclusion in this report was that Iran’s main concerns in science and technology were the following: (a) how to attract new entrepreneurs, (b) how to promote an innovation culture, and (c) what universi- ties could do to promote innovation and entrepreneurship (Reference: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Trade and Development Board, TD/B/COM.2/69, GE.06-50005, January 5, 2006).