Thursday, January 28, 2010

Siemens sanctions Iranian business

From The Financial Times, January 26 2010, by Daniel Schaefer in Munich, Gerrit Wiesmann in Berlin and Daniel Dombey in Washington:

Siemens ...announced on Tuesday it would seek no new business in Iran.

The move comes as a US and European push for new United Nations sanctions on Tehran continues to encounter obstacles. It also highlights the importance of Washington’s informal but intense drive to convince international groups to drop ties with Iran.

US administration officials say that if organisations do business with Iran they risk trading with groups proscribed by Washington, such as the Revolutionary Guard.

Siemens came under additional pressure within the US after reports last year that technology sold to Iran by its joint venture Nokia Siemens Networks could be used to monitor calls within the country. The sale led campaign groups to call for a boycott of Siemens.

Peter Loescher, Siemens chief executive, revealed at the company’s annual shareholder meeting that the board had decided in October to refrain from new business with Tehran.

...Mr Loescher’s announcement came as German chancellor Angela Merkel warned that “time is running out” for Iran, which has ignored repeated international deadlines to stop enriching uranium. She was speaking after hosting Shimon Peres, president of Israel, who has criticised Germany for allowing its companies to continue to trade with Iran.

The US and its European partners are yet to convince China and Russia to sign up to more UN sanctions, amid particular resistance from Beijing, which has replaced Germany as Iran’s top trading partner.

While Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank pulled out of Iran after earlier UN resolutions and the US’s accompanying lobbying campaign, German manufacturers have continued to do business there.

Daimler pulled out of Iran in 2007 – when it still owned US carmaker Chrysler and was under direct pressure from Washington – but no other big-name groups have since publicly followed suit...
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