A top aviation scientist at a British university linked to the Ministry of Defence shared “the latest ideas and research” on Western jet engines at an Iranian college sanctioned for its role in the regime’s nuclear weapons programme, the Jewish Chronicle can reveal.

Dr Soheil Jafari, who is based the Centre for Propulsion and Thermal Power Engineering at Cranfield University, gave the lecture via videolink in December 2020 at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, despite its links with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The disclosures come as the government announced that it would impose new sanctions on the regime — including broader powers targeting its efforts to proliferate arms and weapons technology — rather than heed widespread calls to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist group.

More than a dozen British universities, including Cambridge, Imperial College, Glasgow, Edinburgh, King’s College London, Northumbria and Liverpool have been identified as being involved in research into military or “dual use” technology with institutions in Iran.

Dr Jafari gave the December 2020 lecture to Sharif University’s Aerospace Scientific Association, despite EU sanction documents saying that the institution “cooperates with the Iranian Ministry of Defence and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)”.

A leaflet publicising the event at Sharif University, which is sanctioned by the west, said Dr Jafari would “present the latest ideas and research and industrial achievements of major aircraft engine manufacturers Rolls-Royce, General Electric and Pratt & Witney”.

Dr Jafari’s talk, entitled The future of aircraft engine control: Challenges and Opportunities, would, the leaflet added, “familiarise attendees with the real challenges of designing and building these systems and how to solve these challenges”.

It focused on Rolls-Royce and American manufacturers General Electric and Pratt & Witney, which produce the world’s leading jet engines, including for the military.

Pratt & Witney makes the F135 engine used in F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft, described as the “most powerful and most advanced fighter engine ever produced”.

Dr Jafari, who himself was previously an associate professor at Sharif University, joined Cranfield in 2017, specialising in jet engine performance. Cranfield has a strategic research partnership with the RAF and is also home to the UK’s Defence Academy, a secure military site.

According to the university’s terms and conditions of employment, it also provides academic services to the UK Secretary of State for Defence and conducts secret research.

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