The billionaire hopes to dodge the American sanctions which hit the Islamic Republic in order to offer its internet connection services there via its own constellation of satellites.
The founder of aerospace giant Space X, Elon Musk, is once again shaking up the media universe with his tweets. This time, he announces that he does indeed intend to request a waiver to circumvent the sanctions imposed on Iran by the American administration. Why ? Because it intends to offer internet connection services via its own constellation of satellites, Starlink, on the territory of the Islamic Republic.
It all started with a first message posted on the social network to the little blue bird. Musk bragged about his growing constellation, which is now available on all continents, “including Antarctica”. A journalist of Iranian origin, Erfan Kasraie, then replied to him by asking him if it was possible to offer his service in Iran, while writing “I’m sure you won’t answer me”. This was being pessimistic, as the billionaire responded well, stating that “Starlink will apply for Iran sanctions waiver” in order to be able to offer its service there.
Starlink will ask for an exemption to Iranian sanctions in this regard
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 19, 2022
Since the end of 2020, Starlink’s service has come to the rescue of areas poorly served by landline and mobile networks, paying for the purchase of an antenna and a modem and a subscription whose prices vary according to the country. He enjoyed a spotlight after supplying antennas and modems to the Ukrainian army to improve its communication capabilities in the war against Russia.
42,000 satellites eventually
Currently, Elon Musk’s constellation has nearly 3,000 satellites and performs about one launch per week with its own rockets – Falcon 9 – to accelerate the deployment of its constellation. The project ultimately provides for the launch of 42,000 satellites to provide a high-speed connection from space. This has already worried NASA because of a risk of collision in space and the increase in space debris.
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Iran has been under a tougher US sanctions regime since former President Donald Trump terminated the 2015 deal over its nuclear activities. New rounds of sanctions were taken against Iran in early September, after the delivery of drones to Russia on the one hand as well as for the alleged involvement of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security in the massive cyberattack which targeted Albania in July.
If current President Joe Biden has shown himself in favor of a renegotiation of the agreement, the Iranian insistence on obtaining guarantees from the American administration is blocking the discussions. It remains to be seen whether Elon Musk will have the necessary weight to overturn the government measures.