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December 31, 2012

Huawei in Hot Seat Once Again Over Alleged Iran Deal

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

Huawei (News - Alert), in the past, has found itself coming under fire for its business dealings, and now with the year coming to a close, one more seems to have made an appearance.

Huawei is facing some significant problems over a deal said to be made back in 2010 that's got the U.S. State Department sitting up and taking notice.

The notice stems from a deal one of Huawei's partners in Iran made with the largest mobile-phone operator firm in Iran. The deal would have provided Mobile Telecommunication Co. of Iran (MCI) with equipment valued at 1.3 billion Euros, had the deal gone through – which it did not.

Despite the fact that neither Huawei nor its partners ever actually pulled the trigger on the deal, it's still got the State Department's interest as the equipment in question, said to be an HP product, was under an embargo at the time.

Back in the opening days of 2012, a similar issue came up when U.S. lawmakers turned their attention to Huawei and its dealings with Iranian firms, this time over the sale of equipment geared to track the locations of mobile phones. Lawmakers called it a means "to facilitate the Iranian government's restriction of the speech of the Iranian people and the free flow of unbiased information in Iran."

October brought with it a similar set of concerns from the State Department, representing part of a long string of same going back as far as 2003, in which allegations emerged about Huawei doing business with Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq.

Naturally, Huawei was ready to respond to all of this: "Huawei's business in Iran is in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations including those of the U.N., the U.S. and E.U. This commitment has been carried out and followed strictly by our company,” it said to Reuters (News - Alert). “Further, we also require our partners to follow the same commitment and strictly abide by the relevant laws and regulations."

That's a lot of strict, frankly, and it would be hard to expect a company accused of dealing improperly with Iran to say anything else. Granted, it's difficult to pass up a sale in this kind of an economy, so due kudos should be extended to Huawei for making such a stand.

The whole issue is one that's laden with peril, in all honesty. Sure, no one wants to see Iran get their hands on equipment that might pose a risk to other countries, let alone their own citizenry, but then, how far should we as the rest of the world meddle? This is a difficult position to say the least, with plenty of room for dissent on both sides of the equation.

Still, the wider picture suggests things aren't likely to get better for Huawei any time soon. The State Department isn't an enemy anyone wants to make. 

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker
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