Huawei partner offered embargoed HP gear to Iran

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In October, Reuters reported that another Iranian partner of Huawei last year tried to sell embargoed American antenna equipment to Iran’s second largest mobile operator, MTN Irancell, in a deal the buyer ultimately rejected. The U.S. antenna manufacturer, CommScope Inc, has an agreement with Huawei in which the Chinese firm can use its products in Huawei systems, according to a CommScope spokesman.

He added that his company strives to comply fully with all U.S. laws and sanctions.
Huawei has a similar partnership with HP. In a statement, the Palo Alto, Calif., company said, “HP has an extensive control system in place to ensure our partners and resellers comply with all legal and regulatory requirements involving system security, global trade and customer privacy and the company’s relationship with Huawei is no different.”

The statement added, “HP’s distribution contract terms prohibit the sale of HP products into Iran and require compliance with U.S. and other applicable export laws.”
Washington has banned the export of computer equipment to Iran for years. The sanctions are designed to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons; Iran says its nuclear program is aimed purely at producing domestic energy.

Huawei and its Iranian partner, Skycom, appear to have very close ties.

An Iranian job recruitment site called describes Skycom as “a leading telecom solution provider” and goes on to list details that are identical to the way Huawei describes itself on its U.S. website: employee-owned, selling “solutions” used by “45 of the world’s top 50 telecom operators” and serving “one-third of the world’s population.”

On, several telecom workers list having worked at “Huawei-skycom” on their resumes. A former Skycom employee said the two companies shared the same headquarters in China. And an Iranian telecom manager who has visited Skycom’s office in Tehran said, “Everybody carries Huawei badges.”

A Hong Kong accountant whose firm is listed in Skycom registration records as its corporate secretary said Friday he would check with the company to see if anyone would answer questions. Reuters did not hear back.

The proposal to MCI, dated October 2010, would have doubled the capacity of MCI’s billing system for prepaid customers. The proposal noted that MCI was “growing fast” and that its current system, provided by Huawei, had “exceeded the system capacity” to handle 20 million prepaid subscribers.

“In order to keep serving (MCI) with high quality, we provide this expansion proposal to support 40M subscribers,” the proposal states on a page marked “HUAWEI Confidential.”

The proposal makes clear that HP computer servers were an integral part of the “Hardware Installation Design” of the expansion project. Tables listing equipment for MCI facilities at a new site in Tehran and in the city of Shiraz repeatedly reference HP servers under the heading, “Minicomputer Model.”

The documents seen by Reuters also include a portion of an equipment price list that carries Huawei’s logo and are stamped “SKYCOM IRAN OFFICE.” The pages list prices for HP servers, disk arrays and switches, including those that already are “existing” and others that need to be added. The total proposed project price came to 19.9 million euros, including a “one time special discount.”

The proposed new HP equipment, which totalled 1.3 million euros, included one server, 20 disk arrays, 22 switches and software. The existing HP equipment included 22 servers, 8 disk arrays and 13 switches, with accompanying prices.

Asked who had provided the existing HP equipment to MCI, Vic Guyang, a Huawei spokesman, said it wasn’t Huawei. “We would like to add that the existing hardware equipment belongs to the customer. Huawei does not have information on, or the authority to check the source of the customer’s equipment.”

Officials with MCI did not respond to requests for comment.

In a series of stories this year, Reuters has documented how China has become a backdoor for Iran to obtain embargoed U.S. computer equipment. In March and April, Reuters reported that China’s ZTE Corp, a Huawei competitor, had sold or agreed to sell millions of dollars worth of U.S. computer gear, including HP equipment, to Telecommunication Co of Iran, the country’s largest telecommunications firm, and a unit of the consortium that controls TCI.

The articles sparked investigations by the U.S. Commerce Department, the Justice Department and some of the U.S. tech companies. ZTE says it is cooperating with the federal probes.

TCI is the parent company of MCI.

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