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Norwegian Police Investigating Academics For Exposing Technology To Iranian Visitors

Dr. Saeed Sarkar, one of the godfathers and the head of Iran's nano-technology sector, addressing a conference in October 2017. FILE PHOTO

The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) has charged two researchers of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) on suspicion of sharing sensitive information with Iran that may contribute to the production of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery.

The researchers have been charged with contributing to the data breach when they invited a group of visiting scientists from Iran in the spring of 2019. Two Iranian researchers were allegedly allowed into an advanced “high-tech” lab, called the Nano-mechanical lab, and given unauthorized access to computer systems, according to Universitetsavia. The last guest researcher left Norway in July last year.

The university's online newspaper also said the key question now is whether studies of specific metal alloys may have provided Iran with information that may be of importance in the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery.​

According to the police official, Trond Hugubakken, the incident was limited to visiting guest researchers from Iran and the Norwegian Police is now trying to find out if that research can be of importance in the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction.

The lab where the breach occurred in seen in the photo in the tweet below:

According to Universitetsavisa, the online newspaper of the NTNU which first brought the case to public attention, the investigation is at an early stage but Bjarne Foss, the University's Research and Communications Vice-President has confirmed that the two researchers who have not been named were suspended from their positions at NTNU's Institute of Mechanical Engineering and Manufacturing (MTP).

“In the spring of 2019, Police Security Service received information from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology that there may have been irregular research that could be in conflict with export control legislation. Based on the information we received from NTNU, PST initiated an investigation of the case last year,” Norway Today quoted a Norwegian police official as saying on Wednesday.