US Treasury expands Iran sanctions waivers to social media platforms, video conferencing and cloud services.
Washington D.C.- The Biden administration issued a license to relax sanctions on internet services in Iran, saying the move is aimed at “supporting the free flow of information” for Iranians amid widespread anti-government protests.
The US Treasury Department said Friday that the decision comes in response to Iranian authorities cutting off Internet access in the country to disrupt demonstrations and “prevent the world from seeing their violent crackdown on peaceful protesters.”
“With these changes, we are helping the Iranian people be better equipped to counter government efforts to surveil and censor them,” Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.
The ongoing unrest in Iran was sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini following his arrest in the capital Tehran for “improper dress” last week.
Iranian police have denied that Amini was beaten in custody, but her case has sparked demonstrations across the country, sparking a global outcry against Tehran.
Earlier this week, internet watchdog NetBlocks documented a “near total outage” of internet service in western Iran and a partial one in the capital, as well as countrywide restrictions on communication platforms and networks. social Instagram and WhatsApp.
“As brave Iranians take to the streets to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, the United States is redoubling its support for the free flow of information to the Iranian people,” Adeyemo said Friday.
The US license extends sanctions exemptions to social media platforms, video conferencing and cloud services, as well as “anti-censorship tools and related software.”
Since former US President Donald Trump rejected the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, various sectors of the Iranian economy have been under heavy US sanctions.
President Joe Biden is seeking a return to the pact, in which Iran scaled back its nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions against its economy, but diplomatic efforts to revive the deal have stalled.
In recent days, Biden and his top advisers have expressed support for the Iranian protesters.
“Today we stand with the brave citizens and brave women of Iran who are demonstrating right now to secure their basic rights,” Biden told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, the US administration also imposed new sanctions on Iran’s “morality police” over Amini’s death and subsequent crackdown on protests.
On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the updated Treasury license and accused Iran of “violently suppressing peaceful protesters” angry over Amini’s death.
“In the face of these steps, we are going to help make sure that the Iranian people are not kept isolated and in the dark. This is a concrete step in providing meaningful support to Iranians demanding that their basic rights be respected,” Blinken said in a statement.
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