Nokia Siemens scales down presence in Iran

The company will no longer sign new maintenance contracts

Telecommunications vendor Nokia Siemens Networks is further limiting the way it does business in Iran, as the international stance against the country is hardened.

The company started to scale back its presence in Iran last year, but has until now extended maintenance contracts, which it will no longer do, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Nokia Siemens made the decision as a result of tougher export restrictions against Iran, said the spokeswoman.

The telecommunications equipment vendor isn't the only one that has decided to limit its business activities in Iran.

Last week, Huawei Technologies said it will "restrict its business development there by no longer seeking new customers and limiting its business activities with existing customers" due to "the increasingly complex situation in Iran", according to a statement on its website, while also underlining that its business in the country has been in full compliance with all laws and regulations including those of the U.N., U.S. and E.U.

Ericsson took similar measures in December last year, a spokesman said.

The vendors have been criticized on several occasions for providing equipment to countries that could use it to curb human rights.

In August, Nokia Siemens came under fire because a Siemens division had allegedly supplied technology to a monitoring center in Bahrain, which was used to help carry out human rights violations. The monitoring center business was sold by Nokia Siemens in 2009.

Partly as a result of the issues raised by the potential for misuse of its technology, Nokia Siemens adopted a human rights policy to address the issues of new technologies and freedom of expression, it said in a statement at the time.

On Friday, European Commissioner Neelie Kroes said that technology companieshave a moral obligation not to sell to repressive regimes.

Every actor, public and private, must take up responsibility for how its products can be used, and be transparent about the technology they are selling in certain countries, according to Kroes.

At the same time, she highlighted the fact that information and communications technology also help the struggle for human rights.

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