Prominent Washington lobby group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) has said that it is preparing a campaign to persuade South African telecoms group MTN to dispose of its stake in MTN Irancell, the country’s second-largest mobile operator. The Wall Street Journal quotes UANI spokesman Nathan Carleton as saying that ‘investment in Iranian telecommunication aids government censorship and efforts by officials to track cellphone users’. When pressed by the business daily, MTN reportedly declined to comment on its Iranian activities.
The WSJ report coincides with news that Angola’s state-owned energy company, Sonangol, is considering pulling out of an Iranian gas deal, whilst Sasol of South Africa says that it is discussing whether or not to divest its 50% stake in a USD900 million Iranian petrochemical project. The moves come as the US government and European Union (EU) continue to expand sanctions against Iran, and try to persuade consumers of Iranian oil to find alternative supplies to choke off Tehran’s revenue and force it to abandon its alleged nuclear weapons development project – a charge Iran itself continues to deny.