UMass Amherst stops admitting Iranians to some graduate programs

A file photograph dated 15 January 2011 shows a general view of the Iran’s heavy water reactor in the city of Arak, Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on 08 November 2011 published the clearest indications to date that Iran has been developing a nuclear weapon. The report, which detailed a large number of nuclear-related projects and experiments, said that some of the activities might be ongoing. The Vienna-based agency concluded that Iran had worked on using uranium metal in a nuclear warhead and on computer-modelling of nuclear explosions.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst told students this week that it will no longer accept Iranian nationals into graduate programs in chemical, computer, and mechanical engineering or the natural sciences, to avoid violating US sanctions against Iran.

The college’s new policy, which appears to be rare if not unique among US universities, appeared to catch the US State Department by surprise and also drew criticism from some Iranian students in UMass Amherst graduate programs.

“We feel that it’s against the American spirit of freedom in education,” said Amir Azadi, a member of UMass’s Iranian Graduate Students Association, which he said has about 60 members.

In explaining its stance, the university cited a US Department of Homeland Security policy, based on a 2012 federal law, that declares Iranian citizens ineligible for US visas if they seek higher education in preparation for careers in Iran’s energy sector or any field related to nuclear power.

The decision was announced as the United States and other nations pursued restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program. Iran says its program is for civilian purposes, but some Western countries fear it is seeking to build a nuclear arsenal…

Why should the West be educating Iranian nationals at all? They would not be here unless they came from families of regime supporters.  

Those nuclear projects are being built while the country does not even have enough electricity to meet their domestic needs.  If they were not interested in nuclear weapons, a few refineries and plants to burn natural gas for electricity would seem far more sensible.