Beat up the Intellectuals! Gratuitous Iranian Sanctions



My colleague Marc Noland has recently written on this problem of the collateral damage caused by sanctions, and the way this damage can be politically manipulated. The problem came up in Iraq, and is about to resurface as the effects of recent sanctions hit North Korea (see his posts here and hereour other sanctions posts can be found here).

But we were more than a little dismayed at a note he received from Elsevier, the publisher of the Journal of Asian Economics. We reproduce it in full below. A notification from the Office of Foreign Assets Control now prohibits American-owned journals from handling—let alone publishing—manuscripts from authors who are employed by the government of Iran, including its state-owned entities.

For those of you outside academia, the world of academic publishing has become a nightmare; competition is stiff, review times long, requests for revision are endless, picky and add little value. Just reject me, for heaven’s sake! If we really wanted to torment the Iranians, we should stick them in the Revise and Resubmit queue.

But on a more serious note, this is a pointless and gratuitous sanction. If there is anyone we want to connect with in Iran, North Korea, and other disconnected countries, it is precisely those seeking to communicate with the reality-based universe. Beating up the intellectuals is not what we should be doing; we should be taking every opportunity to engage them.

US owned journals can no longer handle submissions by authors employed by the Government of Iran

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 all US owned journals are now unable to handle scientific manuscripts where any of the authors are employed by the Government of Iran. These sanctions include the research departments of the various oil and gas companies which are deemed to be entities of the Government of Iran. As your journal is a US owned journal these sanctions will therefore be of relevance for your role as an editor.

We realize that this OFAC regulation will cause some inconvenience but 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 owned journals. Please be aware that this OFAC regulation does not pertain to manuscripts where the authors are based at Iranian academic and research institutes and also manuscripts originating from a clinical setting that are not government run, for example, a hospital or clinical practice.

To view the official OFAC regulation, please click here.

In practice the result of these sanctions will mean that:

  • All new submissions should be checked and those submissions where any author is based in Iran, and not at an academic and research institute, should be rejected outright
  • Where an Iranian author has dual affiliations (eg. university and government) their submission should also be rejected outright

When rejecting manuscripts which fall under this OFAC regulation please use the new EES Decision Term "Reject - OFAC Sanctions" and the following text:

"As a result of OFAC sanctions all US owned journals are unable to handle scientific manuscripts which are authored by Iranian scientists, employed by the Government of Iran. Based on this OFAC regulation and that Journal of Asian Economics is a US owned journal we are unfortunately unable to handle your manuscript. We wish you success with your submission to another Journal."

We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause. If you do have any questions please contact your Publisher.

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