Iran’s science will suffer as US pulls out of nuclear deal: Nature

May 10, 2018

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency tour an Iranian facility in 2007. Credit: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

The Iran deal was welcomed by scientists who thought that it was an opportunity for international collaboration, reports Nature magazine. However, with the US pulling out of the agreement, there are fears that scientific collaboration will suffer.

Jeff Tollefson, writing in Nature magazine, reports that: “[W]hen Trump took office last year, long-standing efforts to establish scientific exchanges between Iran and the United States came to a halt. And workshops organized by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) between 2010 and 2017 — meant to bolster collaborations in diverse fields including solar energy and water resource management — stopped after the Trump administration raised questions about Iran and the nuclear deal, says Glenn Schweitzer, who spearheaded the NASEM work in Washington DC.”

On May 8, the American president announced that the US was exiting the Iran nuclear deal. The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) said that agreed Iran to scale back its nuclear programme and allow international inspections. In exchange economic sanctions would be removed by the US, EU, UK, Russia and China.

“We were all full of enthusiasm when the agreement was signed, but unfortunately things went in the opposite direction,” says Soroosh Sorooshian, an Iranian–American hydrologist at the University of California, Irvine. He was one of hundreds of scientists who participated in the NASEM workshops. “God knows what happens next.”

Other research collaborations that could be in jeopardy include work at Fordow, an underground nuclear facility near Qom in northern Iran. As part of the JCPOA, Iran agreed to halt uranium enrichment at the facility.