US Treasury says certain satellite internet equipment can be exported to Iran

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WASHINGTON, Sept 20 (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury Department said on Tuesday that some satellite internet equipment could be exported to Iran, suggesting SpaceX CEO Elon Musk may not need a license to to provide the company’s Starlink satellite broadband service in the country.

Musk said on Monday that the company would seek an exemption from sanctions against Iran. “Starlink will seek an exemption from Iranian sanctions in this regard,” Musk wrote on Twitter in response to a tweet. Read more

Musk’s tweet did not elaborate on his plans, but it came at a time of widespread protests in Iran over the death of a woman in police custody. The Treasury did not say whether the license would apply to Musk’s plans.

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Some people on Twitter had asked Musk to provide the satellite internet stations. Access to social media and certain content is strictly restricted in Iran.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has a long-standing license that “allows certain exports to Iran of Internet communications hardware, software, and services, including certain consumer-grade Internet connectivity and consumer-grade residential satellite terminals licensed under a D-1 blanket license,” a department spokesperson said in a statement.

“For any export not covered by existing authorizations, OFAC welcomes applications for specific licenses to authorize activities supporting Internet freedom in Iran,” the statement added.

SpaceX aims to rapidly expand Starlink, and it is racing rival satellite communications companies including OneWeb and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), which have yet to launch Project Kuiper.

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Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington Editing by Alistair Bell

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