Should Huawei Do Business in Iran?

8:00 AM -- A pressure group called United Against Nuclear Iran has called on Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to immediately end its business in Iran because, according to the group, the vendor has been "been providing the Iranian regime with cellular and electronic technology that it has used to conduct surveillance on its citizens, and track down human rights activists and dissidents."

In a press release published Monday, the "not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group" stated that if the Chinese vendor continues to do business in Iran, it will "push Huawei to be held accountable under U.S. sanctions law."

UANI is targeting Huawei following the publication of this Bloomberg article that highlighted Huawei's business in Iran, where it has reportedly supplied infrastructure that has replaced Nokia Networks (NSN) equipment.

NSN has come under a great deal of pressure during the past two years regarding the historical delivery of monitoring technology to service providers in Iran, and the vendor now publishes its ethics and human rights policy. (See Euronews: August 25, NSN Has a Bad Day and NSN Denies Selling DPI to Iran.)

Many ethical and moral questions arise regarding the ongoing business relationships between overseas suppliers and communications service providers in countries where human rights abuses are reported, not just Iran.

In this particular instance, though, a couple of questions spring to mind about Monday's press release: Why has Huawei been singled out by UANI when the Bloomberg article identified multiple vendors that are doing business and/or trying to win business in Iran? And in what way could Huawei be held accountable under U.S. sanctions law? (We have sent these questions to UANI.)

It has already been noted that Huawei should not be allowed to do business with the U.S. government because of its involvement in Iran. (See US Gets Worried About Huawei .)

All the relevant issues are open for discussion, and we encourage our readers to share their appropriate views on our message boards.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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Sterling Perrin 12/5/2012 | 4:50:00 PM
re: Should Huawei Do Business in Iran?


I've found this story to be very interesting and am glad you've posted this discussion piece. Here's what I was thinking after I read the WSJ article:

In emerging countries managed network deals are very common. In these deals the equipment supplier manages the network for the operator in addition to supplying infrastructure. The driver is obvious: the countries don't have the same level of expertise to run the networks, so this is a big driver in the decision process. I know Huawei wins alot of business this way. Other vendors do too.

This appears to be the situation for Iran. In this situation, where the Huawei team was deployed in the country do they really have a choice to refuse direction from the govt when it turns from running the network to a spy operation? It seems that the only viable policy for any equipment supplier would be to refuse to do managed network deals with any dictatorship worldwide.

From your article, it seems that NSN may have something like this in place? I'm curious, if there is a tally of all dictatorships worldwide, would Huawei and ZTE be the only suppliers to these countries? I find this hard to believe. I'm not trying to defend Huawei here, but  i know it is easy to single out the Chinese as the only bad guys when this may not be the case.


digits 12/5/2012 | 4:49:58 PM
re: Should Huawei Do Business in Iran?

Just to clarify on NSN


A part of NSN that was spun off from NSN in 2009 (so was no longer part of the company) had a Legal Intercept monitoring systems supply deal in Iran. 

NSN details its historical link to Iran here:



And do you think these are managed services deals, involving Legal Intercept systems? And/or if any state agency was using data from any monitoring systems being run by or on behalf of any service provider, would that be outsourced? I dunno.


Dixson 12/5/2012 | 4:49:56 PM
re: Should Huawei Do Business in Iran?

fully agree

digits 12/5/2012 | 4:49:55 PM
re: Should Huawei Do Business in Iran?

Thanks Ben. 

As an update, we have no response from UANI to our questions regarding its statement re Huawei.


Ben Roome 12/5/2012 | 4:49:55 PM
re: Should Huawei Do Business in Iran? Ray, Sterling - let me know if you have any specific questions. Nokia Siemens Networks response to UANI when it received a "press release" is here: http://www.nokiasiemensnetworks.com/news-events/press-room/response-to-uani-campaign
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:49:54 PM
re: Should Huawei Do Business in Iran?

Well, to be completely inflamatory....How is Iran more of a Dictatorship than China?



shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:49:46 PM
re: Should Huawei Do Business in Iran?

If we started playing Six Degrees of Separation with Dictatorships, we'd all be boycotted.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:49:45 PM
re: Should Huawei Do Business in Iran?

I love it -- then we can start looking for labels like, "Single-sourced in Sweden" or "Hecho en Canada."

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:49:45 PM
re: Should Huawei Do Business in Iran?

Artisan crafted, single-sourced router, carefully made by middle-class Chinese graduates for the expressed purpose of maintaining local law and order.

Am I allowed to buy that product or is that bad?

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:49:45 PM
re: Should Huawei Do Business in Iran?

I think a new marketing label for foreign telecom gear is in order: Certified Free from Oppressive Regimes. They could be like the nutrional labels in the US, where we obsess on what's missing from our food vs. what's in it.


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