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Posts Tagged ‘ Iran nuclear scientist ’

  • 18 July 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 5 Comments
  • Sanctions

Smart Sanctions

New sanctions have caused ETS, the Educational Testing Service, to block Iranian students from taking standardized tests required for Western educations, such as the TOEFL and the GRE.

From ETS’s website:

Registration temporarily suspended in Iran

The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution affecting banks and financial institutions that conduct business in Iran. As a result of this resolution, ETS is currently unable to process payments from Iran and has had to temporarily suspend registration until alternative arrangements can be made. Please check back after July 22 for an update.

This means it will now be even harder for Iranian students to study in the US, since these tests are a prerequisite for most admissions applications.  Iranian students already face an inordinately strict visa process in which they are only eligible for single-entry visas.  This policy is unique to Iran in the Middle East, by the way; Saudi students, Syrian students, Lebanese students — they are all eligible for multiple-entry visas, yet Iran is not.

But what is most troubling about this newest impact of sanctions is that it runs directly counter to the stated interests of US foreign policy on Iran.

In Obama’s Nowruz address last March, he said:

[E]ven as we continue to have differences with the Iranian government, we will sustain our commitment to a more hopeful future for the Iranian people. For instance, by increasing opportunities for educational exchanges so that Iranian students can come to our colleges and universities

This commitment was echoed every time the Administration stressed the targeted nature of these new sanctions; that they will impose penalties on Iran’s government — not its people.  And yet, the reality continues to prove otherwise.

There is even reason to believe this unforeseen consequence of sanctions runs counter to our covert operations involving Iran.  The so-called “brain drain” program which seeks to lure Iranian nuclear scientists to defect surely involves some type of academic cover.  That was clearly the case with Shahram Amiri’s bizarre ordeal, since his CIA handlers set him up with a university posting in Arizona.  The point of any type of “brain drain” program is to lure the current generation — and perhaps more importantly the next generation — of intellectual leaders in fields like nuclear science out of the country.  The single most effective tool in reaching that goal is simply getting them to study in US universities while they’re young.  We have the best colleges in the world, and oftentimes that experience is transformative.

Sadly, the unintended consequences of sanctions continue to have the exact opposite effect of President Obama’s goal of distinguishing between the Iranian government and its people.  And three decades of evidence suggests that the Iranian government gains enormously every time we make that same mistake.

  • 9 June 2010
  • Posted By Sanaz Yarvali
  • 0 Comments
  • Nuclear file

An Unsolved Mystery: Shahram Amiri

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD4SzcAeExg&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

Shahram Amiri, an Iranian physicist who has been missing since June of last year, has uploaded two separate videos online sharing completely contradictory accounts of his situation. Which video is real? Or are both just a fraud?

In his first video, Amiri says he is residing in Tuscon, Arizona after having been abducted from Medina “in a joint operation by terror and kidnap teams from the US intelligence service CIA and Saudi Arabia’s Istikhbarat.” He says that he was abducted for information about Iran’s nuclear program. Toward the end of the video, he says that if this is the last video that his family sees…for them to have patience. He looks quite disheveled in the grainy video, though there seems to be no hard evidence to indicate either that the video is real or fake.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tMY-oraOfA&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

In the second video, he is well dressed and has asked for everyone “to stop presenting a distorted image of me.” He starts off by saying that he is thankful for having the opportunity to talk and that he is living freely in the United States. He refers to himself as a simple medical physicist, and that he misses his wife and family.

Recently, US officials acknowledged that Amiri had defected and had been resettled in the United States after extensive debriefing, in which he reportedly shared valuable information to American intelligence agencies.

A U.S. official familiar with the case scoffed at the notion that he had been kidnapped, noting that if Amiri were imprisoned, it would not be possible for him to make videos for Iranian television.

Both videos raise lots more questions than answers. For now, it seems like the case of Shahram Amiri will remain an unsolved mystery.

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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