The Washington Free Beacon
Friday, 6 May 2016
Nearly two dozen lawmakers sent a letter urging the Commerce Department to keep sanctions on Chinese company ZTE for allegedly doing business with Iran.
The Commerce Department announcedin March that it would sanction ZTE Corporation, a telecommunications manufacturer, for allegedly violating export control laws restricting the sale of technological items to entities in Iran. The sanctions banned U.S. manufacturers from selling components to the Chinese company and also barred foreign manufacturers from selling products to ZTE that have a significant amount of U.S.-made components.
However, the U.S. temporarily suspendedthe sanctions two weeks later providing that ZTE cooperate with U.S. investigators, which irked a coalition of Republican members of Congress.
“We strongly urge Commerce to reconsider its decision to temporarily remove ZTE from its Entity List. If evidence currently exists to implicate ZTE, we believe it is appropriate for Commerce to take immediate action and re-impose ZTE’s standing on the Entity List,” the lawmakers wrote to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and Secretary of State John Kerry in the letter dated April 27.
They expressed concern that ZTE will not be punished for the alleged violations, which the lawmakers argued would serve to undermine U.S. efforts to stop human rights abuses in Iran.
“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. The United States restricted the sale of certain information technology (IT) equipment to Iran in an effort to limit the government’s abilities to oppress dissidents and restrict the free-flow of information,” they wrote.
“In 2012, it was reported that ZTE violated our export controls by selling embargoed equipment to the Telecommunications Company of Iran (TCI), a government-controlled entity, which would enable TCI to monitor and control all electronic communications within Iran. These allegations were recently confirmed by documents released by the Commerce Department during its investigation.”
The lawmakers cited reports of continuing human rights abuses in Iran “despite the administration’s recent efforts with the Iran nuclear deal.” In particular, a United Nations report released earlier this year found that the Iranian government conducts “widening crackdowns” on freedom of expression and opinion.
“Especially in light of recent Iranian provocation and aggression, America must send a strong message that we are committed to reversing its 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,” the congressmen wrote.
They also requested further information on the terms of the agreement with ZTE that temporarily lifted the sanctions earlier this year. The restrictions are said to be temporarily suspended until June 30 pending investigation.
The letter was signed by 23 members of Congress, including Reps. Robert Pittenger (R., N.C.), Randy Weber (R., Texas), David Rouzer (R., N.C.), Ann Wagner (R., Mo.), Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.), Ryan Zinke (R., Mont.), Bill Posey (R., Fla.), Paul Cook (R., Calif.), Joseph Pitts (R., Penn.), Kenny Marchant (R., Texas), Chris Smith (R., N.J.), Randy Hultgren (R., Ill.), Trent Franks (R., Ariz.), Doug LaMalfa (R., Calif.), Cresent Hardy (R., Nev.), French Hill (R., Ark.), Sam Johnson (R., Texas), Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Todd Rokita (R., Ind.), Gregg Harper (R., Miss.), Robert Latta (R., Ohio), Vicky Hartzler (R., Mo.), Mike Pompeo (R., Kansas).