The American Chemical Society has confirmed that, in January, it was forced to drop 36 members of the society who live in Iran because of the terms of a U.S. embargo against Iran and other nations. ACS officials say they came to the decision after careful legal review indicated that the society was running afoul of the regulations, which are administered by the Treasury Department.
"We regretted having to do this, and we will get it sorted out," says ACS Executive Director and CEO Madeleine Jacobs. She says the society is working to reinstate the Iranian members by applying for a license from the U.S. government.
Jacobs adds that the breadth of services that come with ACS membership "distinguish us in important ways" from other scientific societies with regard to the Treasury Department rules. Nonetheless, she says she plans to be in touch with her counterparts at other scientific societies to explain the ACS decision.
The regulations do not permit ACS to provide members in Iran with services or benefits beyond the receipt of journals and other publications, says ACS Assistant General Counsel David T. Smorodin. Even providing publications becomes problematic, he says, if the society offers them at a discounted member rate.
"Chemists around the world network through ACS," says Ali Banijamali, chair of the board of directors of the Iranian Chemists' Association of ACS. With the Treasury Department rules, he says, "politics is prohibiting this collaboration."