06 April 2004

Treasury Dept Exempts Scholarly Publications from Trade Sanctions

Ruling affects articles from Iran, Libya, Sudan and Cuba

By David Shelby
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The U.S. and international scientific community has welcomed the Treasury Department's decision not to apply sanctions to the editing and publication of articles written by citizens of countries subject to U.S. trade embargoes.

"IEEE [the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers] scored a victory for freedom of the press and the scholarly publishing community with the ruling it received Friday (April 2) from the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)," the institute said in an April 5 news release.

"The ruling exempts peer review, editing and publication of scholarly manuscripts submitted to IEEE by authors living in countries that are under U.S. trade embargoes, such as Iran and Cuba," the release said.

OFAC's Director Richard Newcomb said in a press release April 5, "Today's ruling makes clear that scientific communities in sanctioned countries may publish their works in U.S. scholarly journals. This process is vital to promoting the free flow of information within the global community of scholarship."

The countries subject to U.S. trade sanctions are Iran, Libya, Sudan and Cuba.

IEEE President Arthur Winston said, "The ruling eliminates potentially disturbing U.S. government intrusions on our scholarly publishing process and reaffirms the position IEEE has taken from the beginning that these publishing activities are protected by the First Amendment and exempt from the OFAC regulations."

The issue initially arose when IEEE requested that OFAC clarify its interpretation of U.S. trade law with respect to the institute's publishing activities. Specifically, IEEE asked whether its peer review process and copy editing of articles submitted by Iranian authors required OFAC licensing.

IEEE claims to be the world's largest technical professional society with approximately 360,000 members in 170 countries. Some 2,000 of those members live in countries subject to U.S. trade sanctions -- 1,700 in Iran.

OFAC is the division of the Treasury Department that regulates trade with countries subject to sanctions and embargoes, and it has the authority to grant special licenses for trade under certain circumstances.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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