Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The China-Iran Connection

FBI document links Chinese telecommunications firm to illicit sales to Iran

A senior House Republican leader is warning colleagues of lobbying by China’s state-run telecommunications firms, amid reports that at least one company is under investigation by the FBI for selling surveillance equipment to Iran.

Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R., Va.) stated in two “dear colleague” letters to House members sent Friday and July 9 that Chinese telecommunications companies ZTE and Huawei threaten U.S. security.

“Chinese telecom firms like ZTE and Huawei are a serious threat to U.S. security,” Wolf stated in the latest letter.

The warnings come as an FBI affidavit surfaced online revealing that ZTE illegally exported embargoed U.S. products to Iran, including “a powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring land-line, mobile and internet communications.”

“The reports of ZTE’s alleged criminal activities to supply the Iranian government with illegal equipment in violation of U.S. laws and international trade embargoes—as well as its alleged efforts to destroy evidence of these activities—confirms what I have been warning my colleagues about: Chinese telecom firms like ZTE and Huawei are a serious threat to U.S. security,” Wolf said in a statement Thursday.

Wolf urged the FBI and Commerce Department “to enforce the law to its fullest in this case.”

“ZTE’s alleged criminal activities are just part of the reason I carried bill language in the fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill banning the government from purchasing telecom equipment from state-owned and state-directed Chinese companies,” Wolf said.

The FBI, in the affidavit, said the information it obtained on ZTE was based on interviews with Ashley Kyle Yablon, general counsel for ZTE’s U.S. subsidiary, on May 2, 2012.

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