Elon Musk Wants to Sell Satellite Internet to Iran If He Can Get an Exemption From Sanctions

Starlink now operates on every continent, including Antarctica, according to the billionaire tech mogul.

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SpaceX founder Elon Musk during a T-Mobile and SpaceX joint event on August 25, 2022 in Boca Chica Beach, Texas.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk during a T-Mobile and SpaceX joint event on August 25, 2022 in Boca Chica Beach, Texas.
Photo: Michael Gonzalez (Getty Images)

Elon Musk’s satellite internet provider Starlink will try to offer its service to people in Iran, provided U.S. sanctions against the country can be waived, according to the billionaire. Musk declare his intentions to enter the market in response to a tweet from someone who said they were in Iran on Monday and wanted to know if Starlink would ever be available in the country.

“Starlink will ask for an exemption to Iranian sanctions in this regard,” Musk tweeted.

U.S. sanctions against Iran are some of the toughest in the world and often limit the ability of everyday people to receive basic medical supplies and medicines—sometimes not because those medicines are specifically mentioned in American sanctions legislation but because businesses and banks are afraid to do business in Iran, a side effect known as overcompliance.

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But it appears Musk isn’t afraid of doing business with Iran, despite his company SpaceX’s lucrative government contracts and his need to maintain a security clearance with the Pentagon. Musk’s illicit drug use was previously an issue for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Will Musk actually follow through and apply for an exemption? That remains to be seen, given his propensity for saying lots of things and following through on just a small percentage of those promises, or halfway following through and pulling back. But the people in Iran no doubt await with bated breath.

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Some sanctions against Iran were lifted during the Obama era when the JSPOA was signed, commonly known as the “Iran Nuclear Deal.” The restrictions were tightened once again under Donald Trump’s administration when the 45th president unilaterally violated the agreement. And while President Joe Biden has shown no interest in reviving the deal with Iran, it’s not clear what the current president would do if Musk came to him hat-in-hand for a sanctions waiver.

Then again, Musk has made fun of Biden in the past. So, who knows?