UANI Calls on Chinese Telecom Giant ZTE to Withdraw from Iran

March 26, 2012
Contact: Nathan Carleton, [email protected]
Phone: (212) 554-3296

UANI Calls on Chinese Telecom Giant ZTE to Withdraw from Iran
 Campaign Comes after Reports that ZTE Sold Iranian Regime High-Tech Surveillance Equipment

New York, NY- Today, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) called on the ZTE Corporation (ZTE) of China to end its business in Iran, and stop enabling the Iranian regime's surveillance activities. As reported by Reuters last week, ZTE has sold powerful surveillance equipment to the Iranian regime, which helps facilitate the regime's campaign of terror against its own citizens. ­

On Friday, a ZTE spokesperson told Reuters ZTE would "curtail" its business in Iran, but refused to elaborate beyond that. UANI is therefore calling on ZTE to take full responsibility for its business in Iran, and announce a complete withdrawal from the Iranian market.

In a letter to ZTE President and CEO Shi Lirong, UANI CEO, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, wrote:

UANI has taken note of the recent remarks by ZTE spokesperson David Shu, who told Reuters, "We are going to curtail our business in Iran ... Right now we cannot release more information." (Reuters, "China's ZTE to 'curtail' business in Iran," 3/23/12) Please be advised that for a number of reasons, ZTE's ambiguous and imprecise statements in no way satisfy the serious concerns of UANI and the international community regarding ZTE's irresponsible business in Iran.


[T]he advanced surveillance system ZTE sold to TCI as part of a $130.6 million contract signed in December 2010 enables the Iranian regime to monitor voice, text messaging and internet communications by utilizing intrusive "deep packet inspection" technology.  A former telecommunications project manager in Iran contends that the system ZTE sold to TCI was "far more capable of monitoring citizens than I have ever seen in other equipment." This is extremely troubling given the numerous documented cases of the Iranian regime misusing telecommunications technology to monitor, track and arrest political dissidents in Iran.


Given the extent of ZTE's business activities in Iran and the fact that such business has been steadily expanding since 2000, UANI and its supporters are highly skeptical of ZTE's spokespersons statement that ZTE will "curtail" its business in Iran. ZTE should immediately clarify what action it will take to curtail its business now that the implications of ZTE's business on the human rights situation in Iran are clear.  In short, UANI calls on ZTE to immediately and completely end its business in Iran.         


As ZTE is undoubtedly aware, the United States and other countries are increasingly addressing the issue of dual-use telecommunications equipment going to Iran. ... ZTE could also face penalties under U.S. sanctions for providing a "backdoor" for Iran to acquire U.S. technology. Specifically, ZTE may have violated the Iranian Transactions Regulations. (ITR, 31 CFR part 560) According to Reuters, ZTE's 907-page "Packing List" includes hardware and software products from Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Cisco Systems, Dell, Juniper Networks and Symantec. ... These prospective penalties should be of serious concern for ZTE, particularly in light of ZTE's $13 billion in investment in U.S. companies and intellectual property.

UANI launched its "Tech & Telecom Campaign" in 2011 to highlight the practices of international firms that provide the Iranian regime with sensitive technology and telecommunications equipment that are used to restrict and monitor internet and cellphone services. The regime uses this technology to facilitate its suppression of the citizens of Iran.

UANI has requested a reply from ZTE by April 3, 2012.

Click here to read the full text of UANI's letter to ZTE.
Click here to send a message to ZTE.
Click here to learn more about UANI's Tech & Telecom Campaign.