To assist in reporting on the controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear ambitions, as well as on issues of nuclear proliferation and the science of uranium enrichment, the University of Virginia offers the following experts who can comment on issues concerning the challenges posed by a nuclear Iran, Shiite Islam in Iran, contemporary Iranian society, the portrayal of Iran in Western media, uranium enrichment for civilian and military purposes, and more:
Abdulaziz A. Sachedina, Professor of Religious Studies
Abdulaziz Sachedina is an expert on Shiite Islam, Islamic extremism, the concept of Holy War and Middle Eastern politics. He has resided in and visited Iran frequently over the past 40 years, beginning with his study of Islam at the madrasa of Ayatollah Milani in Mashhad, Iran from 1967-1971. Among his more recent visits, he spent eight months in Iran in 2002, spoke on "The Role of Islam in a Modern Nation State" at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran in 2003, and returned in January from a six-month sabbatical in Iran.
He has written articles about the political role played by Islam in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon. He studied Islam at Aligarh Muslim University in India and in Iran before earning his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He has taught in both Iran and Jordan, was a past director of the Muhammadi Islamic Center in Toronto, and speaks seven languages fluently, including Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Swahili.
"My intimate relation with Iran and its humanitarian culture for almost four decades makes me state with much confidence that to defend itself from any foreign power Iran does not need to develop nuclear capability. What it needs urgently is moral armament in the form of honest democratic governance."
Contact: Abdulaziz Sachedina, mobile: 434-284-3824; office: 434-924-6725
Add'l assistance: Brevy Cannon, 434-243-0368, email@example.com
Michael Krepon, Diplomat In Residence and Lecturer In Politics
Michael Krepon is the President Emeritus of the Henry L. Stimson Center, having previously served as Founding President and CEO from 1989-2000. He directs programming at the Stimson Center on South Asia, arms control and space security. He is a Diplomat Scholar and Visiting Lecturer in the Politics Department at the University of Virginia. He has previously worked in the Carter Administration, on Capitol Hill, and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His most recent books include Cooperative Threat Reduction, Missile Defense, and the Nuclear Future (2003), and two edited volumes: Nuclear Risk Reduction in South Asia (2004) and Escalation Control and the Nuclear Option in South Asia (2004).
"The Iranian threat is real. Ahmadinejad is bad news, but he's not a mass murderer like Stalin or Mao. We deterred Stalin and Mao successfully. With smart policies, we can also deter Iran."
Farzaneh Milani, Professor of Persian and Women Studies, Director of Studies in Women and Gender
Farzaneh Milani was selected in April 2006 to be one of 20 Carnegie Scholars receiving grants of up to $100,000 to pursue Islam-centered research themes over the next two years. As a Carnegie Scholar, Milani will focus on the physical mobility of Islamic women, especially in Iran, and how it relates to issues of freedom in many different cultures.
Born and raised in Tehran, Milani taught Persian language and literature at the University of California at Los Angeles before coming to the University of Virginia in 1986. She is a past president of the Association of Middle Eastern Women's Studies in America. Milani's books include "Veils and Words: The Emerging Voice of Iranian Women Writers." She has written more than 60 articles, book chapters, introductions and afterwords in Persian and English and has lectured both nationally and internationally. She teaches courses in Persian literature and cinema, Islam, and cross-cultural studies of women, and has studied the portrayal of Iran in the Western media.
"There is a then, and there is a now. Persia, now Iran, has always been thought of as the land of the rose and the nightingale. It was once a valuable ally of the United States, but is now considered a participant in the terrorist apocalypse, one of the three nations that comprise the axis of evil. I'm very interested in this radical transformation of how Iran is seen in the U.S."
Houston G. Wood, Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
In addition to teaching in the University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science, Houston Wood worked at Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Tennessee for 10 years in the field of uranium enrichment. He also worked on gas centrifuges at U.Va. and has experience in gas centrifuge technology and cascades. He has organized three international workshops on gas centrifuges and uranium enrichment and two workshops on nuclear non-proliferation verification. In addition to teaching courses on non-proliferation, he has been involved with government and non-government agencies negotiating for non-proliferation issues, including having negotiated with North Korean officials.
"The hardest part in building a nuclear bomb is producing enough fissile material. After that, it's just straight physics. Any process that can enrich uranium to the 5 percent necessary to fuel a reactor can also enrich to the 90 percent needed for a warhead. That said, Iran still has a long was to go. They have a 164-centrifuge facility, but their plan calls for 50,000 centrifuges, and that takes time. I'd say it will take them at least five years to develop enough material for a warhead. To me, that removes the urgency."
NOTE: For further media assistance, contact Brendan Mathews 434-924-7676, firstname.lastname@example.org.