Cost of Selling 'Net Monitoring to Iran

In the case of Siemens Medical, the answer comes out to at least $267 million, the value of the <a href=http://www.defenselink.mil/contracts/contract.aspx?contractid=3995>three-year contract</a> the Defense Department awarded the company in March for radiology systems.

In the case of Siemens Medical, the answer comes out to at least $267 million, the value of the three-year contract the Defense Department awarded the company in March for radiology systems.

That contract, as well as a whole mess of other business Siemens Medical does with the federal government, could be in jeopardy due to a deal by parent company Siemens AG and Nokia to provide Iran with Internet monitoring and blocking software.

Last week, Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said they planned to introduce a bill that would bar foreign companies that sell technology to Iran, which monitors or blocks Internet connections, from receiving U.S. government contracts. This bill would hit Siemens Medical hard.

Siemens sold $468 million worth of medical gear to the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments between 2000 and 2008, or just about a quarter of the total sales volume Siemens AG did with the federal government in the same period. (Siemens also sold $360.1 million worth of bag screening equipment to the Transportation Security Administration during the same period..)

Siemens Medical declined to comment on the Schumer/Graham bill, but steered me to a statement from the Nokia Siemens joint venture, which I used in the article, which says stuff it sells to Iran complies with European Union and United Nations network export control regulations and local laws.

The local law bit is the rub in a global economy - not just in Iran, but also in China, where U.S. companies (think of ones whose names begin with the letters C, G, or Y) go along with a repressive regime because, hey, it's good business.

Unfortunately, good business and freedom don t always mesh, but maybe Senate penalties for providing equipment or software to repressive regimes should be more widely and evenly applied.