Biden Admin Funded Study Involving Researcher From Iranian University Linked To Nuclear Program

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The Department of Energy (DOE) funded energy-related research involving a scientist from an Iranian university linked to the country’s nuclear program.

The DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) is listed as the funding agency for a study on advanced technology that could help power grids go green. One of the seven researchers credited as an author of the study, Mohammad Hasan Ravanji, is a professor of electrical engineering at Iran’s Sharif University of Technology (SUT), a university that has been sanctioned by several Western countries for its advancement of Iran’s nuclear program and connections to the country’s military.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers published the study, titled “Grid-Forming Inverter-Based Resource Research Landscape: Understanding the Key Assets for Renewable-Rich Power Systems,” in their Power and Energy Magazine on February 23. (RELATED: Biden’s State Department Denies Iranian Spy Infiltration Before Immediately Confirming It’s Being Investigated)

“The issue here is that a U.S. federal agency is apparently collaborating with a widely-sanctioned university which is one of the worst actors in Iran’s academic space,” Daniel Roth, the director of research for United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Regardless of whether this explicitly has been used to advance Iran’s nuclear centrifuges is beside the point … This shouldn’t have happened in the first place. And we’re not talking about a collaboration on James Joyce or English literature. It’s about science and technology, and obviously those often have dual uses.”

The DOE announced in 2021 that it would distribute $25 million in taxpayer funds to bankroll a “Grid Forming Research Consortium” based in Golden, Colorado. Several other papers are funded by the same award — number 38637 — and a document published by the DOE-funded consortium references the award number as well.

Ravanji was based at STU from 2013 to 2020 as a researcher and PhD student before spending approximately two years at Australia’s Monash University, according to his LinkedIn profile. He then returned to STU to become an assistant professor there in January 2023, more than a year before the DOE-backed study crediting him was published.

Parts or all of STU have been sanctioned by the U.S. and other Western governments.

In 2012, the Department of the Treasury added SUT’s Advanced Information and Communication Technology Center, the university’s digital media lab and its mobile value-added services lab to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list because of involvement in Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The EU has also sanctioned SUT, citing its “cooperation agreements with Iranian Government organizations which are designated by the UN and/or the EU and which operate in military or military-related fields, particularly in the field of ballistic missile production and procurement” related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Additionally, the U.K.’s government has sanctioned SUT altogether, while the Canadian government has sanctioned SUT’s engineering department.

Critics have highlighted SUT’s importance to the Iranian regime — determined by the State Department to be the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism — and its role in the country’s nuclear ambitions for decades. In a 1997 report on Iran’s nuclear program published in the organization’s journal, two researchers at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies described STU as a “nuclear procurement front” playing a “central” role in the Iranian regime’s “program to acquire the capability to enrich uranium to weapons grade”

UANI wrote a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) President Martin Keller on March 25 to outline their concerns about the award funding in light of SUT’s known role in the Iranian military-industrial complex. Neither official had responded to UANI’s letter as of publication of this story.

Additionally, Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Erst asked Granholm about the award directly during a Wednesday hearing held by the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

“Secretary Granholm, should taxpayer dollars be granted to U.S.-sanctioned countries or institutions, yes or no?” Ernst asked.

“Through DOE? No,” Granholm responded.

“Thank you. Because as you know, the Department of Energy distributes billions of dollars in grants and awards. And in February, a magazine published a research article acknowledging support from a taxpayer-funded DOE award,” Ernst said. “The same article credits an Iranian researcher employed by Iran’s state-linked Sharif University of Technology. U.S. authorities have sanctioned multiple Sharif University entities due to their ties to Iran’s nuclear program. Britain and the E.U. have also sanctioned the university due to similar concerns. So, Secretary Granholm, did taxpayer dollars in this grant support the Iranian researcher?”

“I’m not familiar with this grant, but perhaps you can share the article and I can follow up,” Granholm responded, before agreeing with Ernst to address the matter in writing.

Ernst is also the sponsor of the Senate version of the Tracking Receipts to Adversarial Countries for Knowledge of Spending (TRACKS) Act, which would require the accounting and disclosure of every dime of federal funds routed to institutions in adversarial nations like China, Iran and Russia

The DOE, White House, SUT and Ravanji did not respond to requests for comment.

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