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Lawmakers wrote a letter to Yallen, referring to Musk’s statement on seeking a license to provide Starlink internet service to Iran.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is urging Treasury Secretary Janet Yallent to give Elon Musk the green light he needs to launch his satellite internet service Starlink in Iran. In a tweet earlier this week, the SpaceX chief talked about his plans to bring Starlink to Iran. He announced on the social networking service that “Starlink is now active on all continents, including Antarctica.” The tweet, as expected, got a lot of attention in the form of likes, retweets, comments, and a response from Iranian-born science writer and journalist Erfan Kasraie. He asked Musk:
“…is it technically possible to provide Starlink to Iranian people? It could be a game changer for the future.”
Musk replied to the reporter, stating that “Starlink will ask for an exemption to Iranian sanctions in this regard.”
Musk Hints on Seeking Authorization to Roll Out Starlink in Iran
The sanctions Musk referred to have to do with the country’s nuclear activities. As it stands, many US companies are under the order not to conduct any business transactions with Iran due to the restrictions. However, many Twitter users have been asking Musk to provide Starlink services to Iran amid the widespread protest. There were demonstrations to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in police detention. The deceased was arrested by Iran’s “morality police” and allegedly beaten in the detention van.
In their defense, the Iranian police denied mistreating Amini and claimed she died of a heart attack. Protesters continued with demonstrations across the country. Now, Iranians are cut off from the internet in an apparent bid to clamp down on the protesters. It started with Instagram and then WhatsApp. Currently, in Iran, they have the local internet known as National Internet instead of the global internet. That means that residents can only access local servers. The internet shutdown has triggered fear and anxiety among Iranians. Many fear that the action could be a prelude to stricter restrictions.
Starlink Could Be the Way Out for Iranians
It appears that Starlink could be the savior that Iran residents need at this time. Lawmakers wrote a letter to Yallen, referring to Musk’s statement on seeking a license to provide Starlink internet service to Iran. The group urges the Treasury Secretary to “immediately” approve such a license request if submitted. New York Republican Claudia Tenney and New Jersey Democrat Tom Malinowski led the letter. The letter, which some other lawmakers also signed, implored the Treasury to issue “comfort letters” to communications service providers under previously issued general licenses. Furthermore, the lawmakers asked the department to clarify its policies on communication access in sanctioned countries.
Tenney emphasized in a statement that congress desires the Treasury Department to help the people of Iran to access the internet.