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Elon Musk activates Starlink in Iran after US sanctions are eased

Four trains of Starlink satellites can be seen in the sky.  They look like silver stripes.

A pair of Starlink satellites fly across the sky in March 2020.eaks due to impact.
A photo: Alan Dyer (AP)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said he will activate his company’s Starlink internet service in Iran. disable network access more than 80 million citizens this week after the US Treasury eased sanctions to help support the free flow of information in the country.

In recent days, the Iranian government has carried out a quick and violent suppression about the massive protests that shook the country after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16. The country’s vice police detained a young woman in mid-September because they thought she was not wear a hijab, or a handkerchief, right. Amini died three days after being arrested by the vice police.

Her family and protesters say the young woman died due to beaten police. Meanwhile, authorities claim she died of a heart attack.

The US government called Amini’s death a tragedy and on Friday issued guidance easing restrictions on tech companies seeking to operate in Iran, which remains under heavy US sanctions.

“The Iranian government has cut off internet access to most of its 80 million citizens so they — and the world — cannot watch the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said. statement on Friday. “It is clear that the Iranian government is afraid of its own people. Mahsa Amini died senselessly, tragically, and now the government is brutally suppressing peaceful demonstrators, justly outraged by her loss.

According to Treasury Department, the manual consists of a license called “D-2 General License”. The self-executing license expands the scope of permitted exports of software and services to Iran and allows companies to provide tools including social media platforms, collaboration platforms, conferencing, electronic gaming and cloud services, a senior finance ministry official said. press briefing on Friday.

Notably, Starlink doesn’t fit into any of the examples provided by the US government, meaning it’s not clear if Musk can simply flip a switch to turn on his satellite internet service in Iran.

“Our understanding of Starlink is that what they provide will be commercial grade and it will be hardware that is not covered by a general license, so they will need to file an application with the Treasury,” said a senior Treasury Department official. at a press briefing, according to transcript.

Earlier this week, before the government announced its support for internet freedom, the tech billionaire said that’s exactly what he’s going to do. On Monday, Musk tweeted that Starlink ask for release from US sanctions against Iran to provide internet in the country. However, it was unclear whether Musk would actually do so. As we all know, he is a big talker. There are some things he really dares to go through, but he has a bad habit departure at the last moment and causing a giant mess.

At the briefing, a senior Treasury official added that its Office of Foreign Assets Control, the body responsible for imposing and enforcing sanctions, welcomes applications for licenses for any activity not covered by its new leadership.

“For any activity not covered by the D-2 General License, OFAC welcomes and we will prioritize applications for specific licenses to allow activities that support Internet freedom in Iran,” a senior finance ministry official said.

Gizmodo reached out to SpaceX on Saturday to ask for comment and clarification on whether Musk’s announcement of Starlink activation in Iran would go forward. However, we did not receive a response.

Iran on Saturday criticized the US for easing only certain sanctions, saying it was part of the country’s agenda against its government.

“By lowering the severity of a number of communications sanctions – while maintaining maximum pressure – the US is seeking to advance its goals against Iran,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said. state media.

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