Despite US sanctions on Iran, the Treasury Department of the United States released instructions on Friday to increase internet services available to Iranians. This comes amid protests taking place across Iran in response to the murder of a 22-year-old woman who was being held in detention. An official from the Treasury Department, who was briefing reporters, said the following: “Our understanding of Starlink is that what they provide would be commercial grade, & it would be hardware that is not covered in the general licence; so that would be something they would need to write into Treasury for.”
A representative for the United States Department of State stated afterwards that the amended licence that was issued on Friday was self-executing and that “anyone who fits the conditions described in this general licence can proceed with their operations without asking further approvals.” Regarding Starlink’s authorization to conduct business in Iran, it was not possible to get a statement or clarification from Musk because he was unavailable. Last week, Iranians demonstrated against the murder of Mahsa Amini, who was detained by morality police for wearing “unsuitable clothes” and was being held in police custody at the time of her death.
Musk stated on Monday that the business planned to give Starlink satellite broadband access to Iranians and would petition for a sanctions exception in order to do so. This service is already being provided to Ukraine to assist the country in its struggle against Russia’s invasion.
The spokeswoman for the United States Department of State noted that if SpaceX concluded that certain activity focused towards Iranians needs a particular licence, OFAC would “welcome it and prioritise it” if that information was provided. According to a statement made by a representative for the State Department, “By the same token, if SpaceX concludes that their conduct is already allowed and has any queries, OFAC likewise welcomes such interaction.”