Elon Musk’s hope for his satellite internet company to operate in Iran requires permission from the US Treasury Department, which said on Tuesday it was accepting applications to support internet freedom in the Islamic nation.
Tesla’s CEO tweeted on Monday that its Starlink satellite internet service would seek permission to operate in Iran. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the decision rests with the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
“Of course, we have in the past provided for various forms of economic exemptions so that the Iranian people can communicate with each other and with the world,” Sullivan said Tuesday during a White House news conference.
Starlink, a division of spacecraft maker SpaceX, also owned by Musk, has been operating since 2019. It places thousands of satellites in orbit around the Earth to provide broadband access globally.
The company has tried to provide internet access to the Ukrainian population during the Russian invasion and has won contracts with the US military since 2021.
If Starlink internet access is provided to the Iranian population, it could be against the will of the government, which tightly controls internet access.
A Treasury Department spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity because no application has been received, said OFAC accepts applications for licenses to authorize activities that support internet freedom in Iran.
In 2014, the sanctions arm of the Treasury Department issued a license authorizing exports of software and services to Iran in order to allow the free exchange of communications over the Internet, with the intention of promoting the flow of information. Iranian citizens free.