Not so long ago, scientists were true diplomats of pacifism, but today they became a favorite target to decelerate the national progress and discourage future generations of scientists.
Science diplomacy has long been recognized as one of the most powerful reconciliation tools and has a proven track record in building bridges and helping pave the way for cooperation on broader issues, especially between politically opposed countries. Over the past few decades, successive American administrations, along with experts and scientists, including those at the National Academies, have traditionally encouraged greater scientific exchange and collaboration.
In 1961 John F. Kennedy established a science cooperation agreement with Japan, following appeals to repair the broken dialogue between the two countries’ intellectual communities after World War II. That agreement helped round out a tenuous relationship at the time, rooted only in security concerns. In the 1970s, US diplomats took several science initiatives during their talks with China, and when official diplomatic ties were established in 1979, science played a big role in the shaping of renewed efforts.
At the height of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union had a number of programs facilitating collaboration and exchange between the two countries’ scientific and technical communities. The science diplomacy again gained popularity during the administration of Barack Obama. In 2009, President Obama called for partnership during his “A New Beginning” speech in Cairo, Egypt. These partnerships would include a greater focus on engagement of the Muslim world through science, technology, and innovation building and connecting scientists from the US to scientists in Muslim-majority countries.
US-Iranian scientific cooperation
Iran, the country whose scientific output is reported to be the fastest in the world over the last four decades, is no exception to the aforementioned form of collaboration and globalization of science. Iranians welcome scientists from all over the world to Iran for a visit and participation in seminars, scientific associations, or collaborations. Many Nobel laureates and influential scientists such as Bruce Alberts, F. Sherwood Rowland, Kurt Wüthrich, Stephen Hawking, and Pierre-Gilles de Gennes visited Iran before and after the Iranian revolution. Some universities also hosted American and European scientists as guest lecturers.
Although sanctions have caused a shift in Iran’s trading partners from West to East, scientific collaboration has remained largely oriented towards the West. Over the last two decades, Iran’s top partners for scientific collaboration were the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany, in that order. Iranian and American scientists have coauthored thousands of articles in scientific publications.
This collaboration has been fostered through a number of mechanisms; in the United States, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have advanced these efforts. These organizations have fostered formal and informal exchange of scientists, clinicians, bioethicists, and others, resulting in collaborative research that has contributed to important gains in knowledge of a range of medical and health conditions and concerns.'
Read more: The US is Waging a Quiet Scientific War Against Iran