SpaceX intends to request an exemption from sanctions against Iran from the US administration in order to offer Internet connection services there through its constellation of Starlink satellites, Elon Musk, the founder of the aerospace company, announced on Monday, September 19, on his Twitter account. In response to a reporter’s question, Musk said that “Starlink will apply for an exemption from sanctions against Iran” in order to be able to offer its services there.
Elon Musk originally announced that Starlink is now available on every continent, “including Antarctica,” as the company plans to launch up to 42,000 satellites to provide high-speed communications from space. Offering services in Iran could “really be a game-changer for the future” of the country, Iranian-born science journalist Erfan Kasrai reacted, leading to Elon Musk’s response.
3,000 Starlink satellites deployed since 2019
Launched at the end of 2020, Starlink provides Internet access, especially in areas poorly served by fixed and mobile networks, with the purchase of an antenna and modem and a subscription, the prices of which vary by country. The service gained attention after the Ukrainian army was provided with antennas and modems to improve its communications capabilities in the war against Russia. Since 2019, SpaceX has deployed about 3,000 Starlink satellites and is conducting about one launch a week using its own Falcon 9 rockets to speed up the deployment of its constellation.
Iran has been under a tougher US sanctions regime since a 2015 deal on its nuclear activities was terminated by former President Donald Trump. If incumbent President Joe Biden has spoken out in favor of revisiting the agreement, Iranian insistence on obtaining guarantees from the US administration is blocking discussions. New sanctions against Iran were imposed in early September following the delivery of drones to Russia, on the one hand, and for the alleged involvement of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security in a massive cyber attack against Albania in July.