Fiat Spa and Fiat Industrial announced yesterday that they are halting business activities in Iran, the decision coming after a campaign from a U.S. pressure group, although the Italian firms says that their sales were "totally immaterial in the quantitative and qualitative sense."

A relatively unknown pressure group calling itself the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) has run a media campaign to highlight what it perceives as Fiat's involvement in Iran, and, as well as holding a small demonstration at January's New York International Auto Show in Detroit, it also created a YouTube parody of Fiat's infamous Jennifer Lopez advertising video. UANI has made a number of unsubstantiated claims against the end use of Fiat products within Iran.

A statement issued by Fiat Spa in Turin yesterday, read: "Fiat supports the international efforts for a diplomatic solution of the issues relating to the relations with Iran. In this respect, Fiat announces that effective immediately its subsidiaries will no longer carry out business activity related to products or components where the ultimate destination of such products is known to be Iran, other than to the limited extent required to fulfill already existing binding obligations.

"Sales to Iran based entities during past years by Fiatís subsidiaries were totally immaterial in a quantitative and qualitative sense and any concerned products were sold for commercial and civilian use only. Fiatís subsidiaries having commercial relations with Iranian entities always conducted their businesses in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including those of the United Nations, the European Union and Italy." A similar worded statement was issued simultaneously by Fiat Industrial.

UANI immediately issued a statement of its own professing itself to be partially satisfied with the decision. It's CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace said in the written statement: "We applaud Fiat's decision to end certain parts of its business in Iran."

He also added: "Nonetheless, we call on Fiat to now fully end all of its business in Iran, including the sale and manufacturing of all Fiat and Maserati vehicles. Only last month, it was reported that a Maserati showroom would soon be opening up in Tehran. Fiat should confirm that it is not - directly or indirectly - engaged in any business in Iran, providing any goods or services in Iran, or implementing any agreements with Iranian entities including the Pars Industrial Foundation." Other leading global carmakers are involved in production in Iran, including Nissan and Peugeot."

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