Sweden’s national security service, Sapo, has issued a warning that Iranian citizens studying at Swedish universities could have ties to their nation’s nuclear and military establishments. Therefore, the government agency has advised Swedish universities to ban all Iranian nationals from studying in any field with connections to these weapon-based sectors.
Two Swedish universities have already taken the suggestion to heart. Both Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg and The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm have decided to reject all student applications from Iran.
“For us it means that we don’t accept Iranian citizens to our masters programme in nuclear technology,” explained Chalmers spokesperson Magnus Myren to the TT news agency. The new restrictions also apply to students applying from North Korea, though there are rarely any.
The seemingly biased measure is actually part of the 2007 EU regulation that was passed in connection with a 2006 UN resolution concerning sanctions against Iran. Sapo spokesperson Patrik Peter told TT: “It concerns not only that which is directly affected by nuclear weapons, but also aerospace technology.”
Sveriges Radio reports that Sapo, and two other government agencies, sent letters to seven Swedish universities alerting them to the threat. The letter noted that masters and PhD studies involving technology related to nuclear weaponry or the rockets that carry them could end up in the hands of the wrong people.
Patrik Peter said he was unsure if the restrictions would result in all Iranians being banned from Swedish universities. Nor does Sapo have any idea how many Iranians will be affected by the new measures. Iranians do, however, comprise the largest group of foreign students at Chalmers who are enrolled in masters programs, with 120 admitted for the autumn 2008 term alone.