Powered by WebAds

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Britain training Iranian nuclear physicists

If you're wondering where Iran is getting the scientists to develop nuclear weapons, you should look at Britain. The Times of London reports this morning that some sixty Iranians have been cleared by the British foreign office in the last nine months for graduate studies in "proliferation sensitive fields" like nuclear physics, some areas of chemical and electrical engineering and microbiology. Additionally, in 2005-06, thirty Iranians were doing degrees in nuclear engineering and nuclear physics.
The flow of Iranian scientists to Britain for training has caused alarm as the nuclear standoff between Iran and the West becomes increasingly tense. When confronted with the figures this weekend, the Foreign Office admitted that it was reviewing the vetting for sensitive areas of study and planned to announce an overhaul within the next few weeks to make procedures more rigorous.

[Shadow secretary for innovation, universities and skills David] Willetts said: “Given that we need to have tougher sanctions against Iran, it does seem extraordinary that the government is not yet stopping Iranians coming here to study nuclear physics. There is legitimate concern about what some students have been studying.”
It's astounding just how little control currently exists, but the Brits are promising to tighten things up:

Currently, vetting is done only when a university voluntarily informs the government that a candidate from outside the EU has been offered a place to study a sensitive subject.

This creates a potential loophole. [How's that for typical British understatement? CiJ] Under the new online system overseen by the security services, universities will be obliged to inform the government if any nonEuropean intends to take a course in such subjects. They will also be required to give details about what is included in the course.

Before they can even begin a visa application, students will then be security vetted.

Academic background and country of origin will be checked as well as who is paying for the student’s course – to discover, for example, whether they are being sponsored by an unfriendly government such as Iran’s.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are rigorously checking people at the moment and we are planning an even more rigorous system.”

Maybe if the British universities weren't so busy deciding whether to boycott Israel every few days they could attend to important things like the West's security?


Post a Comment

<< Home