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ACS Moves To Reinstate Iranian Members

Society applies for government license to resolve issue

by William G. Schulz
April 23, 2007 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 85, Issue 17

The American Chemical Society has filed for a government license to provide membership services to scientists in Iran, which, along with Cuba and Sudan, is a target of U.S. economic sanctions. The filing was approved by the ACS Board of Directors in the wake of the society being forced to drop its Iranian members because of the federal embargo rules, which are administered by the Treasury Department (C&EN, April 9, page 11).

"The board approved this action in order to continue the society's long history of encouraging in the broadest and most liberal manner the advancement of chemistry," said ACS Executive Director and CEO Madeleine Jacobs in a statement. "The ACS has long recognized that science and scholarship flourish when scientists from around the world are able to engage in open and fair exchange of information and research."

The 14 Iranians whose active membership in ACS was canceled were notified in an April 13 letter signed by Jacobs that the society would apply for the Treasury Department license. "If the license is granted, we will eagerly offer you the opportunity to reinstate your membership," she wrote. "Please know that the ACS is doing everything within its power to ensure that we remain a scientific society that serves all chemists and scientists???nationally and internationally???within the boundaries of our laws."

Outside counsel advised that ACS faced perilous legal consequences if it continued to run afoul of U.S. law regarding the economic sanctions. The society could have faced up to $500,000 in potential fines, as well as up to 20-year prison sentences for key society personnel, and ACS's tax-exempt status also was jeopardized.


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