Feature > Opinion > OPEN LETTER TO AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY BY SAEED SAHANDY
Asking for Removal of Restrictions on Iranian Members
Dear Members of the American Chemical Society:
With much disbelief I learned that you have decided to expel and stop providing technical feedback to authors in embargoed countries and in particular those from Iran. You stating that this is a violation of the U.S. government's policies,'
I am very disappointed for following two reasons:
1) As you may know, organization like yours and the colleges and universities in our country have been the forefront of freedom of expressions and opinions for the past two centuries and a place to exchange ideas. Frankly, that is why we have accomplished so much in the past five decades and no ones come close to us when we discuss the advance technologies and science.
During 50's, 60's and 70’s despite so many conflicts that our country has been involved; we found the academia a sanctuary where we can use to learn and to teach. However, your comments contradict with an environment that you choose and select to pursue your career. In spirit of your job as a faculty and perhaps carrying the title of professor one expects that you, by profession, to be at the forefront and to support of the freedom of speech and exchanging the ideas and fight those who are against it, to say the least.
2) As you know our Congress has passed a legislation which signed by the President Bush (which as you know became a law). This law allows information exchange with the individuals in the embargo countries. I am sure you are aware that the US Publishers received court ruling to enforce this exclusion; furthermore, the OFAC has confirmed this ruling in April 2004 and has lifted the sanctions.
Thanks to thousand of individuals who persuade the government to change the policy. So, our President and the Congress and our Homeland Security people do not see any issue with this law and makes me puzzle what do see wrong with this law and why do you think any organization is above the law.
Furthermore, I am not so new on these types of issues as I have worked on similar ones with my congressman. At my lengthy discussions with Rep. Garrett, Republication Congressman from the 5th District in New Jersey (very much Republican!) in several different for various causes, As a regular visitor to the Congressman's office I brought up some of these issues and as his constituent emphasized to him not pursue some of the restrictions on 'so called embargo countries' in the Congress. I am happy to say he listened carefully, asked challenging questions but at the end, he agreed and support his constituents and did not push for some of his proposed Bill. I also emphasized to him that nothing in more important to us, as an American than the National Security of the United States of America! He also agreed with me recently and during our meeting that these restrictions are baseless and doesn't serve any purpose.
Let me also give an example that I shared with the Congressman. You may look back and review the list of hijackers in the 9/11 attacks and more recently the suicide bombers of London and Madrid. As you know, none of them were from embargo countries in these three tragic attacks but from our allies and friendly countries. In recent Sunday New York Times (April 29th, 2007) article you noticed that the Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington was the man who moved 100 members of the Bin Laden family out of the country – of course there were guilty but “no one was jailed from these embargo countries”. Not Iranian and as matter of fact none from those countries that you consider threat to our national security.
Finally, let me emphasize the same points here that our national security is the first priority but giving feedback on a technical paper has nothing to do with our national security. Therefore, I am also urging you to revisit the issue and vote in favor of supporting to give feedback on technical papers, allowing publishing them in the technical journals and provide support to those individuals who plan to attend conferences in the United States from Iran and other so called 'embargo' countries.
I trust that you reconsider your position and will vote in support of lifting the ban once and for all; I am counting on you.