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iPhone allowed to sell in Iran (but not to Iranian govt)

By Randell Suba , Jun 01, 2013 09:37 AM EDT

Iranians will soon be able to enjoy the iPhone as well as other cellphones, chat software, computer hardware and other electronic devices from the United States. This was made possible by a new license issued by the Treasury Department, easing the sanctions that prevented American businesses to export to Iran.

The Treasury Department has given the green light for electronic equipment manufacturers and other American businesses. It lifted the ban on device exports that has been in place since the 1980s after the diplomatic relations of the U.S. and Iran went sour. However, there are still some sanctions in place due to the nuclear programs of Iran.

"The people of Iran should be able to communicate and access information without being subject to reprisals by their government. To help facilitate the free flow of information in Iran and with Iranians, The U.S. Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the U.S. Department of State, is issuing a General License today authorizing the exportation to Iran of certain services, software, and hardware incident to personal communications," the Treasury Department said in a press statement.

The department however clarified that American companies are still prohibited to provide communication hardware and software to the government of Iran.

The U.S. government hopes that the move will help the citizens of Iran to keep in touch with the rest of the world and protect their basic right to freedom of expression.

"Lifting these sanctions is an extremely positive step," said Jamal Abdi, policy director of the National Iranian American Council, in an interview with CNET. "There was no better example of sanctions that undermined human rights and civil society efforts of Iranians, and helped the regime."

The Iranian government has been known to implement constant censorship to the extent of blocking Internet access of its people. A lot of citizens who want to bypass such censorship in place make use of virtual private network services but the Iranian government has countered this by blocking VPN tools.

Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook and access to international news agencies are also blocked by the government of Iran.

The initiative of the Treasury Department hopes to empower Iranians who want to help spark reforms that will make their country more democratic.

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