Iran’s Science Revolution
CAIRO — Seeking to become one of the world’s most advanced nations, Iran is promoting technological self-sufficiency, investing heavily in scientific and industrial achievement.
“We have high ambitions,” professor Hashem Rafii-Tabar told Washington Post on Friday, June 6.
“Already we are the number one in nanotechnology in the region, maybe only equaled by Israel.
Iran claims breakthroughs in nanotechnology, a field of applied science and technology whose theme is the control of matter on the atomic and molecular scale.
“Iran produces more papers on this subject in international scientific indexed publications than any other country in the region,” said Rafii-Tabar.
“However, Iran has not yet submitted patents, official new inventions. Its regional competitors have also not reached this stage.”
Iran is now planning to launch its second satellite within weeks.
The country’s car industry also produces more cars than anywhere else in the region.
Iranian biological researchers are also pushing the boundaries of stem cell research.
“Iran wants to join the group of countries that want to know about the biggest things, like space,” American Nobel laureate in physics Burton Richter has told students at Sharif University, which draws many of the country’s best students.
At the university, students work in fields including aerospace and nanotechnology.
“Our visitors are flabbergasted when they come to our modern laboratories and see women PhD students,” said Abdolhassan Vafai, a professor at Sharif.
“Often they had a completely different image of Iran, not as an academic country.
“Here, we educate our students to solve problems that affect all humanity, like hunger, global warming and water shortages.”
Many believe that the eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s has motivated Iran’s science revolution.
“In the war, the whole world was against us,” said Manoucher Manteqi, chief executive of Iran’s largest carmaker, Iran Khodro.
“We learned that we had to stand on our own two feet.”
During the war, Iran faced an enemy supported by superpowers that isolated Iran.
Squadrons of US-made F-4 fighter jets were grounded because of US sanctions that barred Iran’s access to spare parts.
“The sanctions forced us to use our full potential. We are now commercializing what we learned back then,” said Manteqi.
Iran’s drive to develop a nuclear energy program is also considered part of a broader effort to promote technological self-sufficiency.
“If they are managed properly, we can fulfill our ambitions,” said Manteqi.
Championed by the US, the West accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
Tehran insists the program is entirely peaceful and solely aims at generating energy for a growing population.
“Iran can do this in cooperation with the rest of the world, but, if needed, we can also do it by ourselves.”