(Adds background on Huawei, paragraphs 12-16)
WASHINGTON, June 2 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commerce Department has issued a subpoena to Huawei Technologies Co Ltd as part of a probe into the Chinese technology company’s transactions in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
Citing a copy of the subpoena sent to the Shenzhen, China-based Huawei, the Times said the department is demanding the company turn over all its information on the export or re-export of U.S. technology to those countries.
The request comes as part of the United States’ investigation into whether Huawei broke export controls in its dealings with the five countries, which face U.S. restrictions over their exports amid ongoing disputes such as the war in Syria.
Huawei had not been accused of wrongdoing, and the subpoena is administrative, not criminal, in nature, the Times said.
Huawei declined comment on the subpoena but said it abides by the laws and regulations of the countries it operates in.
“In particular, Huawei has a strict code of conduct, rigorous training, and detailed policies relating to export control compliance and actively cooperates with the relevant government agencies, including the Department of Commerce, regarding Huawei’s compliance with export control laws,” a company spokesperson said in an email.
A Commerce Department spokesman declined comment.
Huawei is a world leader in producing telecommunications equipment and has six U.S. research centers, though it is a bit player in America’s telecoms infrastructure market.
U.S. national security concerns have helped scuttle several attempts by Huawei to expand its presence in the country.
According to the Times, the subpoena was issued after U.S. officials had blocked sales of American technology to another Chinese company ZTE Corp, Huawei’s smaller rival.
In March, the U.S. government gave ZTE a three-month reprieve on its tough export restrictions.
The Chinese government’s relationship with Huawei, founded by a retired officer in the People’s Liberation Army, has long worried U.S. intelligence officials, who at one point warned South Korea and other allies not to buy Huawei routers because they contain secret backdoors installed for espionage purposes.
One fear has been that the Chinese software in the routers made it more difficult for American, British and other communications intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on messages within and among countries such as Iran and Cuba that use Huawei products.
There are also concerns that China would be able to more easily wire-tap in areas where Huawei switches are used.
Concerns have grown in recent years as Huawei has used price reductions to increase its penetration of the 400G telecom markets in the Middle East, Latin America and elsewhere, a U.S. intelligence official said on Thursday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
The NSA and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, have tried to counter the threat Huawei presents by trying to create their own backdoors into the Chinese company’s network and seeking to find vulnerabilities in its software source code, the official said.
Reporting by Susan Heavey, Tim Ahmann, Diane Bartz and John Walcott; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Alan Crosby and David Gregorio