News / Middle East

Column: Iran Nuclear Deal Opens Doors for Students

FILE - Students wait to be called for their degree during the University of Connecticut's Graduate School commencement ceremony.FILE - Students wait to be called for their degree during the University of Connecticut's Graduate School commencement ceremony.
x
FILE - Students wait to be called for their degree during the University of Connecticut's Graduate School commencement ceremony.
FILE - Students wait to be called for their degree during the University of Connecticut's Graduate School commencement ceremony.
Among the beneficiaries of the interim nuclear agreement with Iran that went into effect this week are Iranian students abroad and the Western educational institutions that are already seeing rising interest from Iran.
 
A senior Barack Obama administration official on Monday told reporters “we’ve committed that up to $400 million of Iran’s own money can be directed through a financial channel that we will agree on to universities and colleges outside of Iran where Iranian students are currently studying.”
 
This decision to set up a clear path for tuition and associated payments will come as a huge relief to Iranians who have struggled to establish accounts in U.S. banks and to find a way to legally transfer funds from Iran. U.S. banking sanctions in effect for several years have forced Iranian students to use murky means such as hawalas to pay their educational bills, work illegally or accept charity from Iranian Americans.
 
According to U.S. officials, the Iranian government will be able to pay overseas educational expenses from hard currency accounts in banks in countries still legally importing Iranian oil such as Japan, South Korea, Turkey and India. Under the terms of the interim nuclear deal, Iran is to get $4.2 billion of the $100 billion in past oil revenues stuck in foreign banks. Iran’s first payment of $550 million is scheduled to arrive on Feb. 1, according to the State Department, and the rest will be paid out monthly through July assuming Iran continues to faithfully implement the nuclear accord. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced on Monday that Iran had fulfilled its initial commitments by stopping production of 20 percent enriched uranium, beginning to dilute its stockpile of this potential bomb fuel and providing increased access to IAEA inspectors.
 
While much attention has focused on technical matters – the number of centrifuges Iran can spin and how much enriched uranium it can keep – the mere fact of the interim agreement is a major milestone and potential tipping point in Iran’s fraught relations with the United States. Lessening tensions also sends a signal to young Iranians that they will be welcome in U.S. colleges and universities and promotes intercultural understanding crucial to easing the 35-year estrangement between the two countries.
 
Already, steps taken by the U.S. government in recent years have contributed to a steady increase in Iranian students in the U.S., from just under 7000 in 2012 to nearly 9000 last year.

The Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the State Department facilitated the rise by putting information about higher education in the U.S. on the Internet at the website of the “virtual” U.S. Embassy for Iran. Since May 2011, the U.S. has also offered two-year, multiple entry visas to Iranian students instead of three-month, single entry visas, making study abroad much more attractive and practical.
 
The benefits of educating foreigners in the United States are numerous and go far beyond just the individual students and universities involved. Such contacts are especially important in demystifying long-time adversaries and build relationships that can promote mutual interests well into the future.
 
It is worth noting that many of the members of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet have American degrees including Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who studied at San Francisco State and got his doctorate at the University of Denver. These officials understand U.S. politics and have a more realistic idea of what negotiations can achieve than the insular hardliners who worked for the previous Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and who failed to break the nuclear stalemate with the West.
 
All of this is not to say that the path ahead to a more comprehensive nuclear agreement envisioned in six months, let alone normalization of U.S.-Iran relations, will be smooth. U.S. nuclear experts expect extremely tough bargaining as Iran seeks to hold on to as much of its nuclear infrastructure as possible and the United States and its negotiating partners try to limit Iranian facilities.
 
Another senior Obama administration official, also briefing reporters Monday on condition of anonymity, said that talks on a comprehensive deal, due to begin in Geneva next month with consultations among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, would explore “whether there is some possible enrichment capability and stockpile that would be consistent with the assurances we need that Iran is not in a position to develop a nuclear weapon without the international community having a long lead time and notice in advance.” The official did not specify how long that lead time would have to be.
 
There are also questions about the duration of a comprehensive deal and how the intricate web of U.S., UN and other international sanctions imposed on Iran over the past few years can be unraveled.

For now, however, the thousands of Iranians studying in the United States and many more who may want to come here have a reason to be grateful to their government for making the initial concessions that have made this sanctions relief possible.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid