WASHINGTON – Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) recently became aware that the Commerce Department suspended trade sanctions on ZTE Corporation related to the sale of embargoed equipment to an Iranian government-controlled entity which could be used to oppress human rights. Today, Congressman Pittenger led a group of 23 Members of Congress demanding answers from the Obama Administration and urging officials to re-impose penalties.
In 2012, ZTE reportedly violated U.S. export controls by selling embargoed equipment which would enable the Iranian government to monitor and control all electronic communication within its borders. These allegations appear to be confirmed by Commerce Department documents. ZTE Corporation maintains close ties with the Chinese government, which is the number-one global state-sponsor of corporate cyber-espionage and malicious cyber-attacks.
In his letter to the Obama Administration, co-signed by 22 additional Members of Congress, Congressman Pittenger writes:
“We are concerned that if ZTE is not ultimately punished for its reported misconduct, American export control laws and international efforts to promote human rights in Iran will be weakened.
“Despite this Administration’s recent efforts with the Iran nuclear deal, Iran has not made any significant progress with regard to human rights. A recent March 2016 report published by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran highlighted many of the ongoing abuses being committed by the Iranian government. Specifically, the Iranian government continues to conduct ‘widening crackdowns’ on freedom of expression and opinion, as well as promote the continued arrests and prosecution of religious minorities, women, journalists, and other dissidents.
“Especially in light of recent Iranian provocation and aggression, America must send a strong message that we are committed to reversing Iran’s human rights abuses. Our government must hold accountable those who violate the law and enable such abuses through the sale of embargoed technologies to Iran.”
Congressman Pittenger’s letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and Secretary of State John Kerry was co-signed by Representatives Randy Weber (R-TX), David Rouzer (R-NC), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Ryan Zinke (R-MT), Bill Posey (R-FL), Paul Cook (R-CA), Joseph Pitts (R-PA), Kenny Marchant (R-TX), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Cresent Hardy (R-NV), French Hill (R-AR), Sam Johnson (R-TX), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Todd Rokita (R-IN), Gregg Harper (R-MS), Robert Latta (R-OH), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), and Mike Pompeo (R-KS).
A copy of Congressman Pittenger’s letter is here: Letter re ZTE and Iran Sanctions 4.27.16