The U.S. has eased sanctions on Iran in the telecommunications sector. As a result, Iranians now have access to the latest phones from U.S. companies like Apple.
Have new phones despite sanctions: Iranians try out Samsung smartphones in a Tehran store. Image: ap
The U.S. has eased sanctions on Iran in the telecommunications sector. U.S. companies will be allowed to sell cell phones, software and other technologies for personal use in the country again, the U.S. Treasury Department announced Thursday. As a result, Iranians now have access to Apple’s latest iPhone, for example. Many phones or computer programs had only been available on the black market since sanctions were introduced a good twenty years ago.
Most recently, the U.S. had significantly tightened the economic sanction against Iran. The West accuses Iran of working on nuclear bombs under the guise of a civilian nuclear program, which it denies.
The easing of sanctions on technology may be related to the upcoming presidential election in June. As the Iranian government sought to silence the country’s citizens by cutting off lines of communication, the United States wanted to help Iranians exercise their right to free expression, the U.S. Treasury Department memo said.
Social media played a crucial role in protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009 and in the Arab Spring in 2011. The U.S. also blacklisted Iranian authorities and government officials on Thursday, accusing them of human rights abuses as well as censorship.