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American CH. Society Terminates Membership Of Iranian Chemists

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  • American CH. Society Terminates Membership Of Iranian Chemists


    The American Chemical Society (ACS) has once again led the way, with its 'zealot' interpretation of 'embargo' by the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control, by terminating the membership of its long-standing members in Iran, many of whom are post Ph.D. alumni of American Universities. Several years ago, the ACS undertook a similar unprecedented action, under the same law. Then, it unilaterally stopped accepting scholarly and research manuscripts from Iranian scientists for its three dozen periodicals in the publication division. However, later, under embarrassing pressure from the American scientific community and its membership, the ACS retracted its decision and agreed to take it up instead with the federal government. Paradoxically and notwithstanding rhetoric, such ill-conceived measures are against the current U.S. administration policy of promoting people-to-people contact as enunciated by the Assistant Secretary of State Nicholas Burns at the March 29 hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, in Science Magazine, reported that the ACS Assistant General Counsel, David Smorodin when 're-reading” the embargo rules, made the recommendation to terminate Iranian membership(Science Magazine, Vol. 315, 30 March 2007). One can not help but speculate whether or not such decision is truly serving the interests of member-based ACS or enforcing the laws to the limit as he has served as a U.S. Assistant District Attorney before joining the ACS. Nonetheless, despite the abrupt termination of individual membership of Iranian chemical scientists with no due process, the ACS has stated that while they [Iranians] can continue to purchase journals and other “non-sensitive” products at full-rate, the ACS might apply for a special license from the Treasury Department to reinstate their memberships. This has in the meantime deprived American chemists to learn about the scholarly contributions of their Iranian peers.

    It should be noted that as in the past, the American Physical Society (APS), in contrast, stated, 'We have NO plan to do anything similar, and continue to serve our members in Iran.' Judy Franz, a director at the APS further stated that, 'We would resist having to obtain a license to the extent we can.'

    When interviewed by Science Magazine, the official publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), David Rahni an Iranian-American chemistry professor in New York stated, 'I, like most ACS members and peers in the scientific community, strongly question the ACS motive on this issue, and expect ACS’s leadership to refrain from allowing politics to taint the high stature the Organization has achieved.' Rahni further stated that this has personally concerned him gravely since he has served the ACS with distinctions in the past thirty years, as typified by his positions as the chair of the ACS New York, the chair of the Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting, and the chair of Nichols Medal. 90% of the ACS projects, publications and activities are run by a huge cadre of volunteer professionals who, with no expectations, give their time, energy, money and intellects and talents to the advancement of the chemical sciences worldwide. It is painfully ironic to many, especially the ACS American members to witness the politicization of their disciplines through the ACS as they continue to register their grave concerns with the ACS lucratively remunerated executive directors. As a chemistry professor with having given fifty years of his life to the ACS and the profession so eloquently put it, “Never mind the Iranians as one may not give a darn about them and their plights, what, I am bewildered to speculate the ulterior motives of the ACS paid “professional” leadership is to embarrass us as freethinking science. ACS is US and not its DC staff as they are required by our mandate to serve our interests and not create problems for us.”

    The consensus among the nearly one million Americans of Iranian ancestry is to reaffirm their yearning commitment to the attainment of justice, security, stability, equity, transparency and human rights through 'home-grown', indigenous and democratic reforms in Iran, but not at the expense of isolating the scientific community in their motherland from their peers worldwide. They further deplore any possible unilateral military action against Iran, as they firmly believe this is counter-productive to the organic, slow, but steady evolution of Iran through educational benchmark, cultural reforms and communication with the rest of the world. They further consider military action and/or isolation counter-productive to the credibility of their American homeland which would inevitably lead, once again, to the priceless loss of human life and loss of credibility for our nation in the international scene.

    Iran's chemist/chemical engineering professionals/scholars numbers tens of thousands. They are, by and large, members of the Iranian Chemical Society ( However, many of them hold at least one overseas membership, mostly in the Royal Societies in the UK. There are currently 36 Iranian members in the American Chemical Society. The strong position of chemistry/chemical engineering in Iran is due to the oil and gas explorations by the petrochemical industry during the past 100 years, and due to some of Iran’s renowned past and contemporary chemists, scientists, and philosophers. The contributions of Americans of Iranian background to the chemistry and sciences, engineering and medicine, is unparalleled by other recent immigrant communities.

    There indeed exists an Iranian Chemists' Association of the ACS that since its inception in the 80, has reached out to over a thousand chemists of Iranian ancestry in the U.S. alone. It is well substantiated that as long as the diplomatic relations between the two nations remain at a hostile stalemate, a political cloud hovers over the personal and professional aspirations of Iranian-Americans. Specifically, senior and executive level professional opportunities for Iranian-Americans, particularly in government, higher education and the corporate world, remain chronically undermined.

    Iran, a multiethnic country of 70 million, traces its heritage to a long and illustrious history, 10,000 years in the making, with 2500 years of a continuous form of government. There are two million students in her higher education system, 60% of whom, especially in the sciences, engineering and medicine, are women. Its literacy rate is 90%, unprecedented in that part of the world. Iran or Persia as it was formerly known by the outside world until 1935, has indeed contributed immensely toward the advancement of science, technology and society for millennia. Rhazes, Avicenna, Algorithm, Omer Khayam, Farabi, Biruni, Hayyan, and many others are some of the epics that come to a western scholar’s mind.

    Despite the tremendous burden imposed on the Iranian students and scholars as they struggle to obtain a US visa (mostly denied) for doctoral studies, some of the brightest graduate students in Ivy League Universities (e.g., Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, and MIT) are Iranians. Increasingly, however, they opt to pursue their doctoral studies in Australia, Canada and Europe. Iranian high school students have continuously ranked among the top few of the nations in the International Chemistry and other Science Olympiads, and Robotics and Computing Competitions.

    Isn't it ironic that when the ACS claims to be an international professional society, 130 years old, with a membership of 160,000, 10% of whom are from overseas, and an additional 20%, are naturalized Americans or permanent residents, that it forces the nationals of Iran out, deprives them from maintaining scientific communications with peers worldwide, and does not let them contribute toward the advancement of science worldwide?

  • #2

    Notwithstanding the rhetoric and provocations leading to a possible disastrous confrontation by governments, a true scientist, or a credible organization of scientists such as the ACS, which does not recognize the boundaries of the world, should be capable to transcend all political barriers for the advancement of science.

    Excerpt: SCIENCE VOL 315 30 MARCH 2007 1777

    ACS Drops Iranian Members, Citing Embargo

    The American Chemical Society (ACS) has reluctantly rescinded the membership of Some 36 Iranian scientists after the society determined that having members in Iran violates U.S. Law. The society hopes to reinstate them after obtaining a government license, a step that could set a precedent for other U.S. Societies with Iranian members.

    U.S. Organizations are prohibited from doing business with individuals in Iran, Cuba, and North Korea, but an exemption Permits the trade of informational materials. That provision allows U.S. Scholarly societies, whose journals are a major benefit to its overseas members, to retain ties to members in those countries. But ACS’s stance changed after Assistant General Counsel David Smorodin reread the embargo rules and concluded that selling publications to members at discount rates, a common practice, represents a service above and beyond the trade of informational materials.

    He also believes that membership benefits such as “insurance, career counseling, invitation to meetings, and educational opportunities” are not exempt under the rules; although He acknowledges that overseas members typically Do not use those privileges. “We had no choice as a federally chartered organization but to comply with the law,” says Smorodin, adding that his interpretation of the regulations did not “win [me] any friends within the ACS.”

    In January, ACS’s membership office informed the society’s 36 Iranian members that their memberships were being discontinued, although they could still purchase materials from the society at the full rate. The move angered David Rahni, an Iranian-American chemistry professor at Pace University in Pleasantville, New York, and an ACS member, who says ACS should “refrain from allowing politics” to get in the way of scientific openness. Smorodin says the society will soon apply for a license from the Department of Commerce’s Office of Foreign Assets Control allowing it to serve its Iranian members. Other associations are troubled by ACS’s proposed solution.

    “We have no plans to do anything similar,” says Judy Franz of the American Physical Society in College Park, Maryland, which also has members in Iran. “We would resist having to obtain a license to the extent we can.”


    • #3
      sad to see acadamia suffer and advancement suffer becuse politics

      ironic how it is the academic sector that bears the most price

      G-d determines who walks into your life....It is up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go.


      • #4
        Chemical reaction

        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:



        Fredun Hojabri

        ****** ****** ******

        Subject: ACS New Policy toward Iranian Members
        Date: 4/13/2007 11:59:17 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
        From: Fredun Hojabri

        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. Comment

        Best regards,

        Fredun Hojabri
        San Diego, California


        • #5
          برقراری دوباره عضویت ایرانيان در انجمن شیمی آمریکا

          انجمن شیمی آمریکا می گوید ارائه تخفیف های ویژه به محققان ایرانی ساکن این کشور خلاف قانون است
          انجمن شیمی آمریکا چهارده تن از اعضای ايرانی خود را که چند هفته پيش از عضويت اين انجمن محروم شدند، بار ديگر به عضويت انجمن بازگرداند، هرچند اعضای ايرانی از اين پس از برخی خدماتی که انجمن برای اعضای ديگر فراهم می کند محروم خواهند بود.
          انجمن شیمی آمریکا در راستای تحريمهايی که دولت ايالات متحده بر انتقال فناوری به ايران اعمال کرده، عضويت آن دسته از اعضای اين انجمن را که ساکن ايران بودند لغو کرده بود.

          اين تصميم اعتراض مجامع علمی ايرانی و همچنين واکنش رسمی وزارت علوم و فناوری ايران را به دنبال داشت.

          پس از آنکه شمار زيادی از اعضای غيرايرانی انجمن نيز به اين تصميم اعتراض کردند، مديريت انجمن شيمی آمريکا از تصميم خود بازگشت و عضويت اعضای ايرانی را دوباره برقرار ساخت.

          با اين حال انجمن شيمی آمريکا در مورد خدماتی که برای اعضايش فراهم می کند، برای ايرانيها دو استثنا قائل شده، يکی اينکه آنها نمی توانند برای شرکت در همايشهای انجمن شيمی از تخفيفی که به اعضا داده می شود استفاده کنند و ديگری اينکه اعضای ايرانی نمی توانند از عضويت اين انجمن و خدمات آن برای پيشرفت شغلی بهره بگيرند.

          اين محروميت شامل آن دسته از اعضای انجمن شيمی که در کوبا يا سودان سکونت داشته باشند نيز می شود.