Siemens to cut future business deals with Iran
BERLIN — Siemens AG of Germany, Europe’s biggest engineering conglomerate with operations world-wide, has announced that it would cut all future business deals with Iran, although the company intends to honor existing contracts. Germany is one of the biggest exporters to Iran. Siemens business deal in Iran have repeatedly come under fire. The company’s CEO Peter Löscher said Siemens was aware of the sensitivities attached to doing business in Iran: “Some time ago, we reduced our business activities with customers in Iran,” Löscher said, responding to questions at the annual shareholders meeting. He said there were still bids submitted by Siemens before October 2009. If they were not accepted, it would mean new business in Iran would end by mid-2010.
Siemens, which makes high-tech machinery as well as domestic appliances, generates annual sales of US$ 700 million from its Iranian operations, which last year represented 0.7 percent of the group’s overall sales. Löscher said Siemens’ trade with Iran was exclusively civilian.
In 1974, Siemens and French scientists started building Iran’s first two civilian nuclear power reactors at Bushehr. The plants were close to completion when the Shah was toppled in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, prompting Siemens to pull out and halt the undertaking for many years. The company recently came under fire when it emerged that it has provided telecommunications technology to Tehran which allows Iranian authorities to wiretap the phones of regime criticis.
Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, welcomed Siemens’ announcement. “This is a timely and courageous decision by Mr. Löscher, for which he deserves praise, especially because a lot of money is at stake for Siemens,” Lauder said, and he expressed hope that other European companies would follow Siemens’ decision and also halt trade operations with Iran as that would send a clear signal to the Iranian regime that it must stop its nuclear program. “We need a coalition of responsible companies that recognize the threat posed by Iran,” he declared.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that February was a crucial month in pushing toward new UN sanctions against Iran. After holding talks in Berlin with Israeli President Peres, Merkel also emphasized that there had already been a “clear reduction” in Germany’s trading volume with Iran.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress