SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he is activating his company’s Starlink internet service in Iran Interrupt internet access to its more than 80 million citizens this week after the US Treasury Department eased sanctions to support the free flow of information in the country.
In the past few days, the Iranian government has made rapid and violent crackdown about the massive protests that have shaken the country since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16. The country’s vice squad arrested the young woman in mid-September because they believed it wasn’t her wears her hijab, or headscarf, right. Amini died three days after being arrested by the vice squad.
Her family and protesters say the young woman died because it was her beaten at the police station. Authorities, meanwhile, claim she died of a heart attack.
The American government has described Amini’s death as a tragedy and released relaxations on Friday Restrictions on tech companies wanting to do business in Iran, which remains under severe US sanctions
“The Iranian government has blocked internet access for most of its 80 million citizens to prevent them – and the world – from observing their violent crackdown on peaceful protesters,” Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said in a statement expression on Friday. “It is clear that the Iranian government is afraid of its own people. Mahsa Amini is senselessly and tragically dead and now the government is violently repressing peaceful protesters who are justifiably angry at their loss.”
According to that financial departmentthe guidance consists of a permit called “General License D-2”. The self-executing license expands the scope of permitted software and services exports to Iran and allows companies to provide tools such as social media platforms, collaboration platforms, conferencing, e-gaming and cloud-based services, a senior Finance Ministry official said in a press conference on Friday.
Notably, Starlink doesn’t fit into any of the examples provided by the US government, meaning it’s not clear whether Musk could simply flip a switch to turn on its satellite internet service in Iran.
“Our understanding of Starlink is that what they are offering would be commercial quality and it would be hardware that is not covered in the general license so they would have to write to the Treasury Department for that,” the senior Treasury Department official told the news conference according to a copy.
Earlier this week, before the government announced its support for internet freedom, the tech billionaire said he would do just that. On Monday, Musk tweeted that Starlink would do so ask for an exemption out American sanctions against Iran to bring internet to the country. It was not clear whether the Musk would actually do this. As we all know, he is a great speaker. There isSome things he decides to go through with, but he has one bad habit draw out at the last minute and cause a huge mess.
In the briefing, the senior Treasury Department official added that his Office of Foreign Asset Control, the body responsible for administering and enforcing sanctions, welcomes applications for licenses for any activity not covered by his new guidance.
“For all activities not covered by General License D-2, OFAC welcomes applications for specific licenses to authorize activities in support of internet freedom in Iran and we will prioritize them,” the senior Treasury official said.
Gizmodo reached out to SpaceX on Saturday for comment and clarification on whether it would go ahead with Musk’s announcement to enable Starlink in Iran. However, we did not receive an answer.
Iran on Saturday criticized the US for easing only certain sanctions, saying it was part of the country’s agenda against its government.
“By reducing the severity of a number of communications sanctions—while maintaining the maximum pressure—the US is trying to advance its goals against Iran,” State Department spokesman Nasser Kanaani said, according to a report in State media.