The United Kingdom government hasn't had a good relationship with Iran for the longest time. The UK government banned importing and exporting military goods and services from the country.
Even in the recent Russia-Ukraine conflict, the government released fresh sanctions on Iran for delivering several kamikaze drones to Russia. Despite all these efforts by the UK government to separate the country from Iran, it seems its educational sector has other plans.
Recently, several reports and investigations show that The University of Cambridge is among almost a dozen UK Universities that have been helping to develop some of the drones created by Iran, including their suicide drones.
These accusations are heavy, as developing these drones involves very complex and sophisticated technologies. It was reported that several academic papers helped create these Iranian drone programs and other fighter jets. An Iran suicide drone costs between $20,000 to $50,000 in the market. And the suicide drone range can be up to 450 kilometers.
Findings by The Jewish Chronicle have made many government officials ask for investigations against the suspected universities. MPs have called for ministers to investigate these universities and determine if their academic research helps develop drones in Iran.
UK government officials said the matter needs to be taken seriously as they would "not accept collaborations which compromise our national security."
11 Universities to be Investigated
University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, the University of Glasgow, Cranfield University, and Northumbria University were involved in some academic research that is suspected to have helped Iran develop its drone programs.
These universities published at least 16 studies with potential Iranian military applications, which has raised many government concerns. One of the researches helped improve drone engines by boosting their altitude, speed, and range and the other "manoeuvrability and response time."
Alicia Kearns, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, said the government should inquire into the "horrifying collaboration – one that I fear risks breaching sanctions in place around sensitive and dual-use technologies. It is quite possible these collaborations are assisting in the gender apartheid within Iran, and its hostile interference and violence across the Middle East or even helping to massacre civilians in Ukraine."
People in Shock Over the Recent Allegations
Many highly placed Britons have shared their views of what they think of the recent development. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former British Army colonel and chemical weapons expert, called the new development "shocking."
"I can think of no reason that any British universities should do any research with Iranian universities and if they are collaborating on projects with military applications I am nearly speechless. I assume that government security services and other departments will be fully investigating these claims and acting accordingly if there is substance in these accusations," he said.
Many of the universities involved have come to clear their name, saying they take a strict and robust approach whenever they are doing research with other countries. Spokespersons for Cranfield University, Imperial, Glasgow University, and Northumbria University have all released statements about the matter, saying they won't allow their research to compromise the country's security.