This week’s international agreement on Iran’s atomic program has given new hope to Iranian students that they may be allowed to continue their advanced studies in Norway after all. Around 70 have been deported or had their visas revoked because of security fears tied to their atomic-related research.
Norway’s police intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) had determined that the studies of several Iranian doctoral candidates would aid the Iranian atomic program that has been the subject of so much dispute. Now, with an agreement aimed at ensuring Iran will only use its nuclear capabiities for peaceful purposes, sanctions against Iran are due to be eased. A Norwegian attorney representing students who’ve had to suspend their work in Norway believes the reasons for PST’s concerns will no longer exist.
“Their whole case is built upon the international sanctions,” attorney Brynjulf Risnes told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday. “As soon as the sanctions are lifted, there’s no longer any special reason to deny Iranians to study in Norway.”
On Monday, two Iranian students who were sent out of Norway last autumn lost their case against the immigration authorities who had acted on PST’s recommendations. They have appealed, and the case against them looks likely to have changed radically by the time their appeal comes up for trial.
NTNU in Trondheim, Norway’s top university in science and technology, has lost 11 Iranian students in the past two years because of the controversy over Iran’s atomic program. Rector Gunnar Bovim said the deportations of the students have been difficult for both the university and the students involved. He now hopes at least some them can return.
NRK reported that the court ruling against the Iranian students this week directly addressed the negotiations that were still going on between Iran and the permanent members of the UN Security Council. The court’s decision was based on the situation before the negotiations resulted in the agreement that, if ultimately approved, will lift sanctions against Iran. Government attorneys told NRK that the students may then apply to resume their studies in accordance with the new rules.