Major scientific journal publisher Reed Elsevier and others are vowing to obey the latest US sanctions against Iran in their day-to-day operations, implementing bizarre policies aimed at following the letter of the law.
The sanctions ban Americans from having any contact with anything written in whole or part by Iranian government employees. Though Elsevier is a Dutch company, it has plenty of American employees, particularly as relates to its English language publications.
So the company has had to introduce a series of zero tolerance policies that its American-born employees cannot have any interaction with the physical manuscripts of Iranians, and also advises managers to “reject outright” any manuscripts from Iran if they can’t find a non-American employee to handle it. The company is concerned that journal editors could be held personally liable by the US government for acquiring the taint of handling Iranian manuscripts.
The fight isn’t a new one. In 2004 the US government tried to ban every American scientist on the planet from having anything to do with any Iranian research, threatening to prosecute individual scientists for “collaboration” with Iran if they did so. The ban was openly repudiated by the American Institute of Physics and other groups, saying it violated freedom of speech, and the scheme was essentially dropped in favor of a toned down version.