updated 02:30 pm EDT, Tue April 10, 2012
ZTE contract for embargoed US gear to Iran found
China's second biggest telecommunications gear maker ZTE was found to have sold embargoed US computer equipment to Iran. A Tuesday Reuters report claimed that documents show ZTE sold some computer gear as part of a $10.5 million supply contract to a unit that controls Iranian telecoms. The documents are dated June 30, 2011 and explain how Iran got sophisticated US hardware despite sanctions against such transactions.
The gear included in the shipment makes up servers from IBM, switches from Cisco and Brocade, database software from Oracle and EMC, back-up and antivirus software from Symantec, and a firewall from Juniper Networks. These components were meant for business support services, with ZTE's own billing system among them.
A ZTE spokesperson indicated the company hasn't shipped these products and followed up on Monday, saying ZTE has no intention to implement the contract or ship the products. After ZTE realized the contract includes some embargoed US products, it decided to "abandon" the agreement, the spokesperson continued. The US companies named in the parts list claim they are not aware of it and are now saying they are looking into it. IBM went on record to say its agreements with ZTE specifically prohibit their products to reach Iran.
The US placed its sanctions in place because of Iran's nuclear development program, though governments in China and Russia don't see eye-to-eye on the matter, at least not to the point of supporting such sanctions. The US government was doing so for years.