Lawmakers Urge Treasury Secretary To Allow Musk’s Starlink To Provide Internet In Iran
A bipartisan group of lawmakers recently wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to allow Elon Musk’s Starlink to provide internet service in heavily sanctioned Iran. Iran’s government restricted internet service to control dissent in the midst of widespread protests after a young woman died in the custody of its morality police.
Led by Representatives Claudia Tenney, a New York Republican, and Tom Malinowski, a New Jersey Democrat, and signed by a number of other lawmakers, the letter cites Musk’s response to a Twitter user inquiring if he would be able to help provide internet service, similar to what he did for Ukraine when Russia invaded.
Musk “recently stated that SpaceX would seek a license to provide its satellite based Starlink Internet service to Iran,” the lawmakers wrote. “If such a license request is submitted, we urge you to approve it immediately.”
The lawmakers also asked Treasury “to clarify its policies for fostering communications access in sanctioned countries and urge the department to issue any necessary ‘comfort letters’ to entities that may seek to provide communications services under previously issued general licenses,” according to a Bloomberg report.
The report also notes that Treasury recently started hiring a “chief sanctions economist,” a post officials say will be dedicated to mitigating these types of concerns.
Earlier in the week, Musk announced that the Starlink constellation is now active in all of the Earth’s seven continents, most recently in Antarctica. SpaceX’s satellite internet service launched 54 satellites on Sunday, joining the 3,076 already in low-Earth orbit. The company aims to have a constellation the size of 42,000 satellites by mid-2027.
Starlink’s goal is to provide high-speed internet to rural and remote areas, or those difficult to connect to broadband service. The company provided internet service to Ukraine’s military after Russia invaded and attacked the country’s internet infrastructure.
In June, Starlink received the license to formally operate in Ukraine and provide internet service not just to the military but also to regular subscribers.
As of this writing, it remains unclear if Starlink has formally requested a license to operate in Iran.
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