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    Musk to seek exemption from Iran sanctions for Web access

    WASHINGTON (AP) – Elon Musk’s hope to operate his satellite Internet firm in Iran requires permission from the United States (US) Treasury Department, which said on Tuesday it welcomes applications to support Internet freedom in the country that is largely isolated from Western economies.

    The Tesla Chief Executive Officer tweeted on Monday that his satellite Internet firm Starlink would seek permission to operate in Iran.

    National security advisor Jake Sullivan said it’s up to Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to decide on Starlink’s next steps.

    “We have of course, in the past, provided for various forms of exemptions for the Iranian people’s ability to communicate with each other and with the world,” Sullivan said during a White House press briefing on Tuesday.

    Starlink, a division of spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX, also owned by Musk, has been in operation since 2019.

    Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk. PHOTO: AP

    It disperses thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth to provide broadband access globally.

    The firm has attempted to provide Internet access to the Ukrainian people during Russia’s invasion and has acquired contracts with the US military since as early as 2021.

    A Treasury spokesperson, speaking on condition of anonymity because no application has been received, said the Office of Foreign Assets Control welcomes applications for licenses to authorise activities supporting Internet freedom in Iran.

    In 2014, Treasury’s sanctions arm issued a licence authorising exports of software and services to Iran that would allow the free exchange of communication over the Internet.

    Despite the allowance, firms have been reluctant to do business in Iran, due to fears of violating existing sanctions and other laws that impose penalties.

    However, in January 2021, Github – a source code storage service – announced that it secured a license from Treasury to offer its services to developers in Iran.

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