Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong

Australians Persist In Research With Iranians Despite Warnings

Sunday, 02/25/2024

Over 20 collaborative research papers have been published in the past year between Australian universities and Iranian institutes, the Guardian reported.

This comes as Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong earlier urged university leaders to halt joint projects with Iranian entities due to concerns over human rights abuses in Iran.

“I urge you to join with the Government to put on hold existing cooperation with Iranian entities, including … universities, and to refrain from any proposed new engagement,” Wong wrote.

While some collaborations focus on benign subjects like cancer research and renewable energy, others delve into critical technologies such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology, raising fears of potential military and surveillance applications in repressive regimes, says a report published by The Guardian.

The Iranian government's tight control over academic direction and research priorities, particularly through entities like the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), exacerbates such concerns.

Rana Dadpour, a former Iranian university teacher turned migration researcher at James Cook University, highlighted the state's direct influence on research agendas noting potential implications for surveillance and military purposes. Despite the warnings and insights, the extent of Australian university leaders' compliance with the government's request remains undisclosed.

“They have direct control over academic direction and research priorities,” she told the Guardian. She also added that some research areas would be directed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and could be used for “surveillance or military purposes”.


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