What technology courses require an exemption from the knowledge embargo, and how can I apply for an exemption?
Both the UN and the EU require countries to ensure that knowledge related to nuclear weapons and missile technology does not fall into the hands of North Korea or Iran. For this reason, anyone who wants to do a course of study or conduct research in these fields must apply for an exemption from the knowledge embargo. Without this exemption you are not allowed to start a course or a research project, or to work within these fields.
North Korea Sanctions Order and nuclear knowledge
The United Nations (UN) requires countries to prevent specific knowledge on the production of nuclear weapons and delivery systems (ballistic missiles) from finding its way to North Korea, whether directly or indirectly. These UN sanctions also apply in the EU. The North Korea Sanctions Order 2017 (link in Dutch) sets out how these sanctions are applied in the Netherlands.
The Dutch education and research sector has knowledge that can contribute to the production of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. For this reason, anyone who comes in contact with this knowledge, including students, researchers and technical staff, must apply for an exemption from the knowledge embargo beforehand. It is impossible to work in certain fields without this permission. You can submit an application for an exemption to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW).
Iranian Sanctions Regulation
The EU also bans the transfer of any knowledge that can contribute to Iran’s ballistic missile programme (Council Regulation (EU) No 267/2012 of 23 March 2012 concerning restrictive measures against Iran). When reviewing applications for exemption from the knowledge embargo for North Korea, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science uses the information supplied to also determine if there is any possible relationship to the Iranian ballistic missile programme. The sanctions also apply to certain forms of education and to assisting with or offering certain research projects.
Simultaneous review (North Korea and Iran)
In determining whether to grant an exemption the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science will examine applications in the light of both sanction regimes. There are two different procedures:
EU Iranian Sanctions RegulationAfter reviewing your application, the Ministry will send the knowledge institution in question an advisory opinion. It is then the institution’s responsibility to comply with the regulation and take the necessary steps to ensure that its terms are not violated.
North Korea Sanctions OrderAfter reviewing your application, the Ministry will send its decision to you directly.
Fields of study and projects that fall under the exemption requirement
The North Korea Sanctions Order 2017 sets out, in general terms, what fields of education and research require an exemption. The specific fields are listed below. These high-risk areas are the same for the EU Iranian Sanctions Regulation. The list, which defines the fields in question as precisely as possible, is regularly updated.
Delft University of Technology
The exemption requirement applies to the following specialised subjects and research groups of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering:
- Experimental and theoretical research in hypersonic aerodynamics;
- Re-entry technology;
- Control systems for guidance navigation;
- Launching and payload structures.
The following specialised subjects and research groups of the Faculty of Applied Sciences:
- Physics of nuclear reactors;
- Specialised knowledge about the design and operation of the reactor hall of the HOR research reactor.
The following specialised subjects and research groups of the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering:
- Microturbine technology;
- Use of materials at extremely high temperatures.
The following specialised subjects and research groups of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science:
- Radar-based missile guidance;
- Student projects that involve studying rocket and missile technology, including the DARE – Stratos student project.
University of Twente
The exemption requirement applies to the following fields of study or research at the University of Twente:
- Nonlinear material modelling, algorithm development and nonlinear analysis and optimisation of structures and processes;
- Predictive analysis of engineered systems described by nonlinear material behaviour;
- Analysis, design and optimisation of complex systems and precision mechanisms.
University of Groningen
The exemption requirement applies to the following fields of study or research at the University of Groningen:
- Experimental and theoretical research on materials engineering.
Eindhoven University of Technology
The exemption requirement applies to the following specialised subjects and research groups at Eindhoven University of Technology:
- Materials technology;
- Aluminium structures;
- Student projects that involve studying rocket and missile technology, including the PR3 Space student project.
The exemption requirement applies to the following fields of study or research of the Radboud Radio Lab:
- The PR3 student project.
Inholland University of Applied Sciences
- Student projects involving missile technology, including the Aquilo student project.
Who is required to apply for an exemption?
The exemption requirement mainly relates to Master of Science (MSc) students, PhD candidates, and researchers who wish to:
- enrol in a course of study or conduct research in one of the fields mentioned above; or
- take part in one of the student projects mentioned above.
Requirement also applies to certain practical activities
An exemption must be applied for by anyone in a position to receive certain specialised knowledge. This can also occur in the case of practical activities, for example in a reactor setting or as part of certain extracurricular activities.
Applying for an exemption
Complete the application form truthfully and in full.
Include the following documents (if necessary, with a translation into English or Dutch):
- A copy of a passport or another valid form of identification (not a driving licence). Make a copy of your identity card or passport with your photo and citizen service number (BSN) (or similar identification number) blocked out. You can do this by covering the photo and number when scanning or photocopying the document;
- Documentation showing how your studies, research or extracurricular activity will be funded;
- A copy of your BSc and MSc diplomas;
- A copy of your list of grades for your BSc and MSc studies;
- A copy of your residence permit (if you have already been granted one for reasons other than this application);
- An invitation by the Dutch knowledge institution in question, an official job offer or a document expressing the intention to offer you a job;
- Scientific publications (in PDF form, not a link).
Submitting your application
The completed questionnaire and all related documents should be sent to the Ministry’s Knowledge Embargo Desk at OCWemail@example.com.
There are privacy risks associated with email communication. If this is a concern, you can send your application to the following postal address instead:
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
t.a.v. ‘OCW-loket Kennisembargo’
2500 BJ Den Haag
Timeframe for decisions
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science will take up to 8 weeks to decide on your application. But this period may be extended if it is unable to reach a decision within this timeframe. You will be informed in a timely manner if this is the case. It is also important to ensure that your application is complete and truthful and contains all necessary documents. If that is not the case, the 8-week processing period will be postponed and you will be given the opportunity to supply the missing information. If you still are not able to provide a complete application, your application will not be processed.
On the basis of your application the Ministry may decide that further investigation is necessary. This will consist of an interview at the Dutch embassy in your country of residence or at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague.
Your personal data will be handled in accordance with the privacy statement of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (link in Dutch).
Exemption applications and visas/residence permits
If an applicant needs a visa or residence permit to live in the Netherlands, they must first obtain an exemption from the knowledge embargo before:
- the Minister of Foreign Affairs can issue a decision on an application for a short-stay visa (which allows the holder to stay in the Netherlands for up to 3 months).
- the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) can issue a decision on an application for a residence permit (which allows the holder to stay in the Netherlands for longer than 3 months).
Objecting to a decision or advisory opinion
If you disagree with the decision or advisory opinion on your application, you can lodge an objection.
North Korea Sanctions OrderThe review relating to the North Korea Sanctions Order will result in a decision. If you wish, you can lodge an objection to the decision within 6 weeks with the Education Executive Agency (DUO). The objection procedure is explained in the decision you receive.
EU Iranian Sanctions RegulationThe review relating to the EU Iranian Sanctions Regulation will result in an advisory opinion, which will be forwarded to the relevant knowledge institution. If necessary, the knowledge institution will take measures to avoid violating the terms of the regulation. If you object to these measures, you can voice your objections to the institution. Contact the institution for more information.
Lodging a complaint about a government body
You have the right to submit a complaint about the conduct of a government body. If the complaint is about the advisory opinion, it will be assessed only in light of the ‘due care criterion’. In other words, did the government body in question act lawfully and provide a good reason for why it acted as it did? It is not possible to dispute the substance of the advisory opinion.
If you have any questions about the complaints procedure, you can contact the Knowledge Embargo Desk of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science:
- by email: OCWfirstname.lastname@example.org
- by letter: Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Directie BOA, Postbus 16375, 2500 BJ Den Haag.
You are not obliged to include a telephone number, but if you do, it will be easier for the Ministry to ask for further information or clear up any uncertain points.