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September 14, 2018 4:54 pm

Iranian Regime Minister Says German Government-Funded Foundation Remains Committed to Joint Research Projects

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The image used by Iran’s official news agency to highlight cooperation agreements with German Foundation DFG. Image: IRNA.

Iran’s official news agency reported on Friday that a cooperation agreement between a group of Iranian universities and a major German research foundation remains in force, as the Tehran regime prepares for the impact of tough new US economic sanctions.

Interviewed by Iran’s IRNA agency, Deputy Minister for Science Hossein Salar Amoli said that universities in Tehran, Amir Kabir and Isfahan were “cooperating in implementing projects” with higher education institutions from the German cities of Hamburg, Dresden and Berlin, in 24 areas ranging from fossil fuel exploration to the translation of Persian literature.

The same report said that the research was being bankrolled by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG — German Research Fund), a state-funded body that awarded 3.2 billion euros of grants in 2017.

While there was no independent confirmation from the DFG of Amoli’s claims on Friday, the organization did reach a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Iran’s National Science Foundation on Jan 21, 2016. The five-year agreement — renewed automatically if neither party objects — was signed by Prof. Nosratollah Zargham for the Iranian side, with Prof. Frank Allgöwer, a leading authority in the field of systems biology, signing on behalf of the Germans.

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Nor has the German media reported on the agreements with Iran, since the appearance of a glowing feature about cooperation in water technology between universities in Dresden and Shiraz in the Sächsische Zeitung news outlet last April. This could indicate that the Iranian regime is recycling old news in a propaganda bid to counter US sanctions — although Amoli also claimed, without elaborating, that a group of German academics was currently visiting Iran “to review their capacities to take advantage of research and training projects and increasing cooperation in the future.”

In the four months that have elapsed since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, the Tehran regime has been anxious to emphasize that renewed sanctions will not impact its “scientific cooperation” with other countries.

On Jun. 1 — three weeks after the US walked away from the nuclear deal — Iranian official Hossein Vatanpour stressed at a press conference that the regime had “scientific exchanges with several countries in the world and sanctions will not affect these relations.”

That message that has been repeated regularly in the face of the comprehensive sanctions on Iran that the US wants locked down by Nov. 4.

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