By Richard Stone

After 2 years of negotiations, Iran today agreed to dismantle large pieces of its nuclear program in exchange for lifting crippling economic sanctions. The agreement, signed today in Vienna, paves the way for a rapid expansion of scientific cooperation with Iran in areas as diverse as fusion, astrophysics, and cancer therapy using radioisotopes.

The agreement between Iran and six world powers is expected to face significant hostility in the U.S. Congress, which has 60 days to review the deal—and endorse or scuttle it. “I welcome a robust debate in Congress on this issue, and I welcome scrutiny of the details of this agreement,” U.S. President Barack Obama said today. However, he noted, “Without this deal, there would be no agreed-upon limitations for the Iranian nuclear program.”…

…Iranian and U.S. nuclear scientists have much to learn from each other, says Robert Rosner, a theoretical physicist at the University of Chicago in Illinois and former director of Argonne National Laboratory. “It’s an incredibly long time since we’ve built any nuclear reactors,” he says. “Iran has world-caliber scientists and engineers, and they have been in the thick of doing that. I can imagine which way information may flow.”

Iran’s nuclear scientists may be skittish at first about engaging, Miller says, citing the assassination of several key nuclear scientists after Iran’s once-clandestine nuclear program emerged from the shadows a decade ago. “Iran naturally became hypersensitive about access to its scientists,” Miller says. But those dark days may soon be over. “When scientists get together,” Rosner predicts, “differences always fall away.”

Continue reading at Science Magazine…

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