Sanctioning Iran

April 30, 2013

One of the things we do as academics is try to figure out how things work, and then report what we find in academic journals.  To take examples close to home, we might look into the causes of international capital flows, explore the impact of anti-dumping laws, examine regulations about financial disclosure, and so on.  Some of this has practical long-term value, but the short-term goal is to engage in a discussion with other experts, which we hope will lead to deeper understanding of the topics. By design, the target audience is small.  Here are a couple examples.

With that as background, one of us received this email about our duties at a journal run by Elsevier, a publisher of academic journals (lightly edited for continuity):

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions. As a result of OFAC sanctions we have been made aware that US editors, US Elsevier staff and US reviewers are now unable to handle scientific manuscripts where any of the authors are employed by the Government of Iran. …

Elsevier is legally obliged to ensure that all reasonable efforts are made to avoid submissions from Iranian government agencies and companies being handled by US editors, US Elsevier staff and US reviewers. Elsevier staff and reviewers from outside the US may still handle these manuscripts and OFAC regulation does not pertain to manuscripts where the authors are based at Iranian academic and research institutes. Manuscripts originating from a clinical setting that are not government run, for example, a hospital or clinical practice are also exempt from this regulation.

Evidently this is a byproduct of trade sanctions against Iran. There may be good reason for this particular aspect of the sanctions, but at first glance it seems to preclude interaction that doesn’t exist. There are lots of good economists of Iranian descent, but for obvious reasons they’re no longer in Iran. Those left seem to have little knowledge of economics.

So we’re going to do the professional thing and ask for punchlines.  Best one gets a free drink at the Malt House.

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