Sunday, October 28, 2007

Are the British really concerned about Iran going nuclear

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

'Iranians study nuclear physics in UK' Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Oct. 28, 2007

The UK Foreign Office has approved the entry of dozens of Iranians to British universities to study advanced nuclear physics and other subjects which could be applied to the creation weapons of mass destruction, The Sunday Times reported Sunday.

The British newspaper reported that in the past nine months about 60 Iranians had been admitted to study postgraduate courses considered "proliferation-sensitive" by the British security services. The courses ranged from nuclear physics to some areas of electrical and chemical engineering and microbiology.

Additionally, the newspaper continued, figures obtained by David Willetts, shadow secretary for innovation, universities and skills, showed that in 2005-06, 30 Iranians were doing postgraduate degrees in subjects covering nuclear physics and nuclear engineering.

The Sunday Times quoted Willetts as saying: "Given that we need to have tougher sanctions against Iran, it does seem extraordinary that the government is not yet stopping Iranians coming here to study nuclear physics. There is legitimate concern about what some students have been studying."

The Foreign Office admitted during the weekend it was reviewing the vetting for sensitive areas of study and planned to announce new, more rigorous procedures in the next few weeks.

Currently, vetting is carried out only when a university chooses to inform the government that a candidate from outside the EU has been admitted to study a sensitive subject.

According to the new procedures, said The Sunday Times, universities would be obliged to inform the government if any non-European applies study such a subject. They would also need to give details about what is included in the course.

Before they can even begin to apply for a visa, students will then undergo a security check.
Academic background and country of origin will be checked as well as who is funding the student's studies. The checks will be conducted in order to discover, for example, whether the students are being sponsored by an unfriendly government such as Iran's.

The newspaper quoted a Foreign Office spokesman as saying: "We are rigorously checking people at the moment and we are planning an even more rigorous system."

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