London, July 8 : The Dutch government has passed a new law under which Iranians will be banned from access to courses and facilities related to nuclear technology in the Netherlands.
According to a report in the Nature News, under the new law, passed on July 4, Iranians, including those holding dual citizenship in the Netherlands, will be unable to enroll in graduate-level courses involving nuclear and rocket technologies.
These encompass nine subject areas outlined in the legislation, including the technology of reactors for uranium enrichment and the chemistry of rocket fuels.
"Some students will be allowed to take these courses with a special government waiver," according to Rob Dekker, a spokesman for the Dutch foreign ministry.
Iranian nationals will also be banned from five nuclear facilities, including those of the Urenco Group, a European company that operates uranium-enrichment plants.
Iran's uranium-enrichment technology is thought to be based on plans taken by a Pakistani scientist working at Urenco during the early 1970s.
According to Dekker, the move comes in response to United Nations and European Union resolutions calling for restrictions on Iran's access to nuclear and weapons-related technology.
The UN Security Council has passed, for example, a resolution halting the transfer of uranium-enrichment technology to Iran.
"We needed to adopt specific sanctions arrangements," said Dekker.
Other countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, require a special security review for Iranian nationals seeking to study nuclear technologies.
The Dutch legislation is thought to be the first outright ban on courses and facilities.
"But the Dutch law is surprisingly harsh," said Jeffry Lewis, an arms-control expert at the New America Foundation, a think-tank based in Washington DC.
"I don't know of any other state that has viewed its obligations in such a broad fashion. The legislation seems like an awfully crude instrument to me," he added.
But, Dekker insists that most Iranians will be unaffected by the new restrictions. "It's not that we're banning all Iranian students from the Netherlands," he said.
"The law applies only for very specific fields of science," agrees Maarten van der Sanden, a spokesman for the Delft University of Technology. "We hope that all nationalities will still subscribe to our courses," he added.