Dear University Friends:
You have heard that the American Chemical Society (ACS) has adopted a new policy to expel its members from the Embargoed Countries including Iran, and to restrict their access to its publications. ACS is giving for this new policy exactly the same reasons that we have heard from IEEE (Institute of Electric and Electronic Engineers) 6 years ago, namely the possibility of heavy fines if they continue to have members in Iran.
It is very disturbing, because the Congress has not passed any new Sanction Law, and OFAC has not issued any new rulings since September 2003, when it revised its ruling and declared a general license to all organizations regarding activities such as information exchange.
Other US professional organizations like American Physical Society (APS), have not accepted to exclude their members in Iran, and until now no US organization has been fined for disobeying the law!
For the last few weeks, Dr. Rahni and several other senior Iranian members of ACS have been trying to resolve this issue by talking to ACS, but ACS is not willing to change its position.
Last Friday I wrote the following letter to ACS to update them of what was achieved in the last 6 years. I have also accepted to work with a committee of several senior Iranian chemists and representatives of other Iranian organizations to coordinate the campaign for restoring membership to excluded Iranian members of ACS. You will hear about this later.
But the experience with IEEE and AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) has showed that only a massive engagement of members, together with other professionals and university community can have any chance for success. It is an issue of Academic Freedom & Free Information Exchange, and it is not limited to chemists or members of ACS.
Please let us know if you are willing to write a letter to ACS officials and voice your opposition to their new policy. The number of E-mails they will receive on this issue is crucial!
E-mail addresses of ACS are:
****** ****** ******
Catherine T. Hunt, President
American Chemical Society
April 13, 2007
Dear Dr. Catherine Hunt:
As former Academic Vice-president & Chemistry professor at Sharif University, and Ex- President of SUTA (Sharif University of Technology Association), I am writing you to express my deep regrets and strong dissatisfaction with the recent decision of ACS to cancel the membership of several of its members living in Iran, and to limit services that you provide to your members, such as access to scientific information.
In 2001 the decision of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) to refuse editing of the scientific papers submitted by its members living in Iran, caused uproar of international scientific community. The decision was based on wrong interpretation of the Sanction Law by the lawyers, and a ruling of OFAC.
SUTA, in cooperation with scientists all over the world, worked hard to show that this decision was wrong, because information exchange was excluded from the Sanction Law.
At that time we were pleased that ACS, like many other US organizations, decided to adhere to their Bylaws, uphold the academic freedom of information exchange, and not follow the OFAC’s ruling. OFAC finally revised its ruling in September 2003 and issued a general license, and declared that many activities, such as scientific information exchange, are entirely “exempt” from the Iranian embargo rules.
Since that time there has been no new Sanction Laws by the Congress, or any new ruling by OFAC that would require you to implement your new policy towards your members living in Iran.
In the last 3 years two other US organizations tried again to restrict membership of their Iranian members, but they had to change their policies under the pressure of their own members.
Another irony is that ACS is the same organization that when an Iranian professor of chemistry was arrested few years ago in Iran, wrote a letter in defense of Academic Freedom and asked the Iranian Government for just treatment of him, but now you are implementing this policy and restricting the membership of Iranian chemists that could include the same professor!
As a long time member of ACS in the past, I urge you to repeal your new policy ASAP, before you further antagonize your members and the scientific community, and damaging the reputation of this fine organization.
San Diego, California