Scientific Journals Must Not Touch Anything Related to Iran

Scientific Journals Must Not Touch Anything Related to Iran | Must keep Americans from touching anything related to Iran

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.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of

  • nomange

    While this is part of the sanctions scheme against Iran, this and all of the other sanctions are sheer lunacy. It reminds me of the State Department's ban against any of its employees accessing Wikileaks publications, e.g., of State Department cables, whether on a government computer or a private computer in one's home. That one, I believe, occurred under Hillary's watch.

  • persnipoles

    It might have confused some why the Jewish lobby went after Stephen Hawking in a way that would tend to discredit them (I hear some were mocking his disability). The above would seem to show the kind of influence that could clear up that confusion. It's got reason to believe it's 'almighty' in some way. That it can chop opponents out of the dialogue; limiting accurate perception of them where it counts. Kourosh Ziabari long ago noticed there was little coverage of Iran's art and science in the US –it was instead all about making Iran appear evil/crazy. If their power increases enough, your mom, too, could become the-new-Hitler.

  • Jackson

    Remember back when Obama and the Democrats accused Bush of stifling scientists … and how Obama and the Democrats promised to leave science alone to pursue scientific results …. yep, it was more BS.

  • chris

    Yes, first dehumanize one's opponent… then one may easily fool the people before lying them into another war. how calculated,,,,,clearly this is a long term plan and any talk of diplomacy over artificial bones of contention like the bogus nuclear one is so much horse feathers…..

    the iranians know to look at what is being done/actions…not at what is being said….the US govt speaks with a fork tongue as the native americans used to say in those quaint old westerns when the white man was breaking yet another treaty- to grab something the red man had…..

    so, hypocritical, dangerous to know and unbelievably foolish, since in the long run the majority of people in this world will see the 'american view' is out of touch with reality,….

    attempts at censorship of information and knowledge unless it comes from 'approved sources'….a sign of fatal [academic ] decay and increasing irrelevance…..welcome to the flat earth reality of the US govt….

  • Wolfgang9

    Okay, yesterday in Germany they were remembering the book burnings by
    German students in 1933. What's the difference here – discriminating Iranian
    scientists? I really wonder how deep this "country of the free" as it claims can
    still fall in my opinion! And if I think back how much I admired that country
    in the 1970s and 80s, its just puzzling me.

    • ShirerCried

      Its puzzling to those of us who live here too. Probably in the same way that what happened in Germany in the 1930's was puzzling to many there too.

      You see it happening. You are locked out of the political system, so you can't do anything about it. Those who oppose are increasingly marginalized, locked out of not only politics and government but increasingly any sort of good job. There are many who see that what is happening is wrong, but who don't feel they can do anything about it, and who can plainly see that speaking up can be hazardous to your health and career and well-being of your family. Meanwhile, the propaganda machine rolls on, and it seems that many believe it completely. But then again, its hard to tell how many of those are just trying to keep their heads down and survive even as they are puzzled as to what on earth is happening to the place where they live.

      Then of course, there are the young you know nothing but this, and you can't see how different this America is from the dream of the Founders because they've never known anything else and because they've been bombarded since birth with propaganda telling them that this militarized, war-loving, police-state America that only serves corporate power and treats people like cannon-fodder is the wonderful America that's supposedly the greatest nation on earth and to which they must be patriotic.

      Hmm, one lesson. Always be afraid of any nation that constantly proclaims itself to be the greatest nation on earth. And be very afraid when you hear such nonsense in the country where you live.

  • mark g.

    Zio-American fascists at work.

    Democracy is great! Kill for freedom!

  • Yonatan

    The irony is that Elsevier proudly refers to its collaboration with Hawking.

    "The fruits of the collaboration between Elsevier and the eclectic group of scientific visionaries that it has published — ranging from Jules Verne to Stephen W. Hawking — are obvious."

    It is my understanding that Elsevier actually has a poor reputation amongst scientists for its extortionate journal pricing. They are working around that by creating systems to make scientific journals freely available. Elsevier and the rest appear to have been pre-emptively boycotted and may disappear once their raison d'etre disappears.

  • Peter

    The burning of books in 1933 in Nazi Germany basically made nothing different: to silence everything that seemed "jewish". It is really bizarre, that science shall be ideologically misused.
    Science is free as is freedom of speech. The USA becomes more and more a fascist military dictatorship.

  • CanuckBC

    AIPAC has gone medevial. They will next time probably make their lapdogs in US to issue order to burn all Iranian books in the world's libraries. Cultural genocide or fascism or both?!

  • Mr. Mojo

    This article would be a lot more informative with a list of publications we don't have to bother wasting our time reading their censored nonsense or waste our money on them or their sponsor's products.

  • sarah

    This is racism, pure and simple.

  • Mark

    Proving Irony in Advertising isn't dead, the rotating ad that appears on my computer in the upper right of this article is for the University of North Carolina School of Government's Masters Degree Program in Public Administration. It says, "If you're super smart, crazy busy and passionate about public service" that this program is for you. Why do I think it would take someone that would describe themselves in such terms to come up with an asinine program such as the one discussed in this piece? UNC's MPA program should adopt the slogan: "Arrogance and Hubris, a winning combination"

  • DDearborn


    SO it is perfectly all right to boycott Iran and all of israel's other enemies. But America's "leaders" have made it illegal to boycott israel. This is not the American way. And this law most certainly is a violation of the Constitution. So even though Iran has not started a war in nearly 100 years and poses absolutely zero threat to America we are supposed to boycott them. Israel on the other hand has started numerous wars with every single one of its neighbors, often repeatedly. israel has nuclear weapons, Iran does not. Israel is an apartheid state. In Iran Jews have exactly the same rights as all other religions. In israel Palestinians are completely segregated. And the judicial system specifically grants jews more rights.

    • "So even though Iran has not started a war in nearly 100 years"

      I see this claim (with variable numbers of years mentioned) quite often.

      But in fact Iran invaded Iraq in 1975, sending two regiments to assist Mustafa Barzani's Kurdish revolt.

      • DDearborn


        Sorry but that attack was in response to Iraqs attack on Iran in starting in 1974. And even if it were correct (it was a defensive reaction to an attack) the fact that Iran has not attacked anyone in nearly 40 years verse israel's attack on a major city in Syria just the other day highlights the injustice of boycotting Iran while ignoring israel's contant attacks on its neighbors. Not to mention its massive nuclear weapons stockpile and the gift of its 5th offensive nuclear weapons capable submarine. Bottom line is that IRAQ started that war.

        Still I find it interesting that an imediate response completely ignoring israel's military belligerence while attempting to discredit Iran to be very telling. Perhaps a rebuttle that actually addresses the issue at hand; israel's contant acts of military agression are the true threat to peace in the Middle East. And further that Iran posses no threat to either the US nor peace in the Middle East makes boycotting them indefensible. And of course the traitorous actions of our Congress that continue to put israel's interests ahead of the American people.

        • "Sorry but that attack was in response to Iraqs attack on Iran in starting in 1974"

          My history may be weak there; from what I've read, Iran was pretty clearly the aggressor in 1974-75, but I could be wrong.

          "Still I find it interesting that an imediate response completely ignoring israel's military belligerence while attempting to discredit Iran to be very telling."

          I have no interest in discrediting Iran. I oppose sanctions on Iran, I oppose clandestine operations versus Iran, and I oppose military attack on Iran. I also don't see any evidence that they're pursuing nuclear weapons, and don't care whether they are or not.

          Then again, so far as I can tell there's plenty of belligerence to go around in the region and whether or not Israel engages in "more than its fair share" of that belligerence is not something I'm highly opinionated on. I do think that the US should end all aid to Israel, though (as well as to all other regimes in the region).

      • jasonditz

        yeah it seems like the better point would be that post-Revolution Iran, which is the one the US has been so hostile toward, hasn't started a war ever.

  • janet amighi

    This article is somewhat misleading. The author begins by saying that the sanctions only relate to Iranian government employees, and then goes on to say that nothing Iranian should be touched. After requiring special licenses to edit and publish any Iranian manuscripts, the ruling has been changed in 2004 and further clarified in 2013 to only refer to Iranian employees of nuclear facilities, oil and gas companies , not employees of academic and research institutions.
    We may be against any form of censorship but let's keep the story straight.

  • I'm sorry but I find this futile and childish. You cannot enforce such a ban. Diplomats should be able to find a more suitable solution.