Biden wants SpaceX to beam internet to Iran amid uprising
Er, did Joe forget who runs Starlink?
The Biden administration apparently wants SpaceX to support the anti-government protests in Iran – by providing Starlink satellite broadband to the Mid-East nation after its religious rulers restricted internet access.
The uprising began mid-September after a 22-year-old Iranian woman was arrested and reportedly beaten to death for not wearing a hijab. The ensuing civil unrest was followed by a brutal crackdown by Tehran on its own people, resulting in more than 200 deaths.
The Iranian government has shut down internet access across several regions of its country in an attempt to block social media and communications. Now, the White House is reportedly talking with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to figure out how the rocket biz can supply its Starlink satellite broadband terminals and service to Iranian citizens and reconnect them to the rest of the world. This is in line with the Biden administration's efforts to push connectivity into Iran.
It is truly an Iranian movement led by young girls and spreading to other aspects of society
"We have our foot on the gas to do everything we possibly can to support the aspirations of the Iranian people," a senior administration official told CNN. "That is our policy, period. At the same time, it is truly an Iranian movement led by young girls and spreading to other aspects of society. And we do not want to in any way eclipse their movement."
Could that be a reference to 1953?
The US government's relationship with SpaceX is rocky. Last week it was revealed the rocket maker told the Pentagon it could not, after pledging to donate broadband terminals to Ukraine and provide free satellite service to the war-torn nation, continue to do so for "an indefinite period of time."
Musk, the richest person in the world, claimed Starlink had already blown $80 million on helping Ukraine since it was invaded by Russia, and further claimed Starlink's operational costs from this support will reach $120 million for the rest of the year, and nearly $400 million for the next 12 months.
Meanwhile, the US government reportedly at least paid SpaceX roughly $3 million for 1,500 terminals for Ukraine, with Starlink charging Uncle Sam as much as twice it charges regular folk. And there are folks donating cash to fund Starlink hardware and subscriptions for people in Ukraine.
After threatening to yank his support for Ukraine, billionaire Musk threw his hands in the air and said, fine, he'll keep pumping free Starlink gear and connectivity into the country.
- Elon Musk reportedly wants to gut Twitter workforce by 75%
- Musk grumbles about 'overpaying' for Twitter but says he's excited
- Starlink, shot by both sides in Ukrainian fracas, lives to fight on
- Musky scent? Billionaire launches fragrance: Burnt Hair
"He's a loose cannon we can never predict," a senior US defense official involved in the government's discussions with Musk over Ukraine, said.
Clearly the stable genius we all need right now. It was reported earlier today that Uncle Sam was considering whether to probe the tycoon's ventures – such as Tesla and Starlink – for any national security issues, though the White House claimed there's no talk of that.
Separately, the US Department of State and the Freedom Online Coalition, an advocacy group made up of different countries focused on internet access, urged Tehran to lift its internet censorship.
"Millions of Iranians rely on these and other tools to connect with each other and to the outside world," they said in a joint statement.
"By blocking, filtering, or shutting down these services, the Iranian government is suppressing the right of peaceful assembly and freedoms of association and expression; eroding civic space; reinforcing a continued climate of economic uncertainty; disrupting access to healthcare, emergency services, and financial services; preventing payments for salaries, utilities, and education; and limiting the ability of journalists, human rights defenders, and others to report on and document human rights violations or abuses that are taking place during Internet shutdowns, or communications disruptions." ®