The White House has engaged in talks with Elon Musk about the possibility of setting up SpaceX’s satellite internet service Starlink inside Iran, multiple officials familiar with the discussions told CNN.
The conversations, which have not been previously reported, come as the Biden administration searches for ways to support the Iranian protest movement that exploded just over a month ago after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died under suspicious circumstances after being detained by the country’s morality police.
The White House sees Starlink’s compact, easy-to-use technology as a potential solution to the Iranian regime’s aggressive efforts to restrict activists’ internet access and communications.
“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.”
If a plan is enacted, it would be the second major theater this year — along with Ukraine — where the US government has turned to Starlink to help provide crucial telecommunication services, even as questions swirl around Musk’s reliability in his dealings with the US government.
“He’s a loose cannon we can never predict,” said a senior US defense official familiar with the government’s discussions with Musk and SpaceX about Ukraine. [Continue reading…]