back to article Biden wants SpaceX to beam internet to Iran amid uprising

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 …

  1. Bitsminer Silver badge

    Pirate radio?

    Biden's policy people should be aware that radio transmission and even radio reception are sovereign rights of each nation to govern.

    Within the international cooperative scheme of the ITU of course.

    Dropping a fee hundred pirate satellite transceivers into Iran will be a very provocative precedent.

    "If you can do it so can I."

    Just don't.

    1. Jan 0 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Pirate radio?

      Isn't the "Voice of America" provocative? Isn't this just an extension of that provocation?

      Mind you, isn't it hilarious that one country thinks it represents 2 continents? Maybe it's not so much provocative as risible.

      Let's hope the Iranians sort out their problems without "American" help this time.

      1. John Savard

        Re: Pirate radio?

        Well, then, I guess the Republic of Colombia ought to change its name too. And, for that matter, British Columbia is taking a name that includes the rest of Canada as well as Guyana!

        In English - although, admittedly, not in French and Spanish - there is absolutely no confusion. America is the USA; the Americas are North, South, and Central America.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Pirate radio?

          "In English - although, admittedly, not in French and Spanish - there is absolutely no confusion. America is the USA"

          That's only because of the repeated and extensive, use on the part of US-ians to refer to themselves as 'Americans'. It's still inaccurate, and it's lazy. And to be fair, while in other languages US-ians sort of works, it IS daft in English, and it IS clunky to asy 'from the US' rather than 'American' to refer to a US citizen. But that's no excuse to not refer to the country as 'USA' or 'the US'.

          It's just like people saying England when they actually mean the UK

          1. JJF

            Re: Pirate radio?

            I think you have your analogy the wrong way round i.e. I think you meant It's just like people saying UK when they mean England.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Pirate radio?

              "I think you meant It's just like people saying UK when they mean England."

              So people saying USA when they mean one of the constituent States?

              England is one of the "states" that comprise the UK, so anyone from any of the constituent "states" that make up the UK is correct if they say they are from the UK.

          2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

            Re: Pirate radio?

            > "US-ians to refer to themselves as 'Americans'. It's still inaccurate"

            But people from the USA _are_ Americans. Not all Americans are from the USA though. Much the same as French people are European, but not all Europeans are French.

            1. SkippyBing

              Re: Pirate radio?

              "but not all Europeans are French"

              Thank God.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Pirate radio?

                You may be confusing the French with Parisiennes. An easy mistake to make :-) The French are lovely people.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pirate radio?

      Honestly, I'm not sure that plan is workable anyway. However - about your claim of being provocative - what are they going to do - provocatively start supplying Russia with drones to wipe out Ukraine's infrastructure and terrorize civilians?

      1. John Savard

        Re: Pirate radio?

        And, of course, if Iran is supplying Russia with drones now - and Russia isn't just using Iranian drones it bought before the war started - why hasn't Iran already undergone regime change?

        1. Withdrawn

          Re: Pirate radio?

          Who's to say that's not what's happening now?

    3. Aitor 1

      Re: Pirate radio?

      As if Biden cares.

      Is it legal.for us troops to coordinate and help terrorists and armed militias against foreign governments including invading said countries?

      If they do that. Why would they be bothered by ITU rules?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pirate radio?

      I'm hardly concerned with what "upsets" Iranian leadership. I'm actually in favour of anything that upsets the Iranian leadership because of the horrendous way they treat their people.

  2. Withdrawn


    The 1953 Iranian coup d'état, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup d'état (Persian: کودتای ۲۸ مرداد), was the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in favor of strengthening the monarchical rule of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, on 19 August 1953.[5] It was orchestrated by the United States (under the name TPAJAX Project[6] or "Operation Ajax") and the United Kingdom (under the name "Operation Boot").[7][8][9][10] The clergy also played a considerable role.[11]

    Weird how things have turned out. Wonder what would have happened if the US had not interfered in yet another foreign democratic election. Seems we haven't learned our lessons yet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Irony

      A secular democratically elected president who wanted the same deal with Britain as the Saudis were already getting with the US, but was refused.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Irony

      Much as I sympathise with the protesters in Iran, I can't help thinking that, given past performance, the best thing we can do is provide humanitarian assistance.

      Long term a deal with Iran, even with a theocratic government, would help provide stability in the region and more competition in the energy market, which is badly needed with Russia and the House of Saud up to their tricks again.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Irony

        Here we have the Ferengi-Trump model of thinking: "I'll do business with anybody if I can turn a profit or reduce costs..." :(

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Irony

          Hardly. However, history suggests that the situation in Iran stems more or less directly from Anglo-American meddling in the first place.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Irony

      You barely mention the UK in that but the US only got involved because the UK asked for help due to the Iranian government nationalising the oil industry after failing to negotiate a handover from the British owned British-Iranian Oil Company who pretty much had a strangler hold on the entirely of the Iranian oil wealth.

      On the other hand, unlike with Suez where the US did NOT get involved (no oil), in the case of Iran, they DID get involved (lots of oil). There may be a pattern there.

  3. Ideasource

    Sounds like SpaceX should stay out of war efforts or risk bleeding out its own existence.

    There will always being politics and wars to be a part of if that's your cup of tea. That stuff's not going anywhere.

    If the US government wants to interfere with Iran's development then fully fund it out of the military budget. They are the proper department for international fuckery that infringes on sovereignty.

    International fuckery of any sort, is still in the end international fuckery whether it be on a social front,a political front, or a physical front.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Costs for SpaceX are minimal, especially as it's already feeding from the DoD teet.

      1. Ideasource

        As far as I know they just took a huge hit by not being afforded funding they were expecting.

        I've been expended Capital based on anticipation of that funding, they're kind of already out on a limb.

        Remember the true costs are not the subsidized cost they would charge a customer, recouped over time through service fees and eventual price hikes.

        If the government wants to use SpaceX as a proxy for their will, government should pay for all costs involved.

        If I let you borrow my car I'd expect you to put the gas back where it was at before you borrowed it. So would you if it was yours.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Not getting the funding they were expecting? Are they a private company or not?

          1. Ideasource

            So what if they are?

            That might effect the political theater of the situation but does nothing to change the realities involved with maintaining sufficient input to maintain output over time within that endeavor.

            Like most modern large-scale efforts,This is an effort built on debt with regular review.

            Certain financial milestones have to be met or the investors pull out.

            If the investors pull out, or even project to pull out to the rest of the world.. it is all instantly worthless. After all there is no hard backing to value anymore. It's all based on hype and projected futures.

            Elon musk is not worth nearly what is he is purported to be worth.

            It's true worth is what he would take home if he liquidated everything today. You're only worth what the peanut gallery feels confident about today.

            That's the unfortunate truth of modern economics.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The amount they're "bleeding" to support the Ukrainian war effort is an immeasurable fraction of the losses The Empire is about to suffer thanks to a certain Twitter takeover...

    3. jmch Silver badge

      I agree with this.

      If the US wants to use SpaceX / Starlink to help war efforts in Iran and Ukraine, they shouldn't be relying on asking Musk nicely (also because as pointed out in the article, he is a loose cannon).

      The correct way is to have a proper supply contract negotiated between the military and the executives of SpaceX (though of course an informal agreement with owner will help get the deal through)

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        A "loose cannon" is something you own and lose control of.

        Musk is not a lose cannon but he is a private individual with his own views and aims which the military do not control, and they don't like that.

        If the military wish to have any control they have the option to buy access to the system for a stupid amount of money (that's what the military do) with whatever support it requires. NO military operation (and this is clearly part of a US military policy) should work on the basis of "helping out" as opinions or views on both sides may change.

        SpaceX is sailing close to the wind by "voluntarily" taking action to support "freedom of speech" but could be seen by others as the company being at the beck and call of the US military/government, something the US roundly complains about when opposing regimes/companies do the same thing.

  4. lglethal Silver badge

    Now would seem to be the perfect time for the US to move a couple of aircraft carrier groups and landing craft into the Indian Ocean only a short way away from Iran. Just for exercises of course.

    With Iran then having to make sure it's military was in position to defend against a "US attack", there would be less military around to stifle the protesters. It would probably dry up the weapons being sent to Russia as well, since Iran"might" end up needing them.

    A steady stream of cryptic denials and media "leaks" of invasion plans should keep them off piste long enough for the people of Iran to really try and regain control of their own country.

    One could hope...

    1. Lordrobot

      Remmeber the COLE and keep it Holey...

      Yeah, John Wayne, bring in your Carriers nice and close... A single rubber boat blew a hole in the COLE... The explosion killed 17 sailors, wounded 42, and severely damaged the Destroyer. Imagine a fleet of rubber drone boats banging holes in your mighty symbols of bullyism. Imagine 5000 Sailors down in the hulls of those sinking flaming ships. And to boot, you could clog the shipping lanes and cut off Saudi oil to the globe.

      Do they teach History and Geography in Murica at the John Wayne Home School Society? Radicals took down the twin towers with airliners while Bush Read... "The Pet Goat" and knocked out a destroyer with a rubber boat. And you want to bring in a couple of Carriers to own exactly who?

      And your next 10D Chess move would be?

    2. herman Silver badge

      Gee, do you even know where Iran is? The US has huge bases and many ships and aircraft close to Iran in the GCC states.

      1. Zolko Silver badge

        The US has huge bases and many ships and aircraft close to Iran

        yes, these pesky Iranians, how dare they put their country in the middle of a US military zone ?

    3. Withdrawn

      You're the kind of person who has ruined for my children the world I loved.

  5. Lordrobot


    "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."

    Perhaps with the insane price of Diesel Fuel globally, and US shortages attributed to BIDEN's failed energy policy, Biden's team may have chosen a better metaphor. But it is descriptive of the John Wayne metaphor of callous disregard for the sovereignty of other nations.

    As an aside remember the John Wayne Movie Hitari? The DUKE was speeding around in a Jeep with a terrorized Baby Elephant in the back of the Jeep. Roots of Heaven, both book and movie came out before this idiotic Wayne movie but more or less exemplified the MURICAN view of African Wildlife or the sovereignty of other nations. The tradition continues today with the Trump Boys on safari killing a zoo full of drugged animals before lunch. "Today I am a TRUMP man!"

    As Fred Trump said to Donald over his cornflakes... "You're a King... You're a Killer, or you are a loser."

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An unusual aside…

    > Could that be a reference to 1953?

    …for El Reg's increasingly neoconservative editorial line. I wonder how that got past the editors.

  7. Bruce Hoult

    Are the companies supplying rifles and HIMARS and HARM and Hummers to Ukraine expected to simply donate them? I don’t think so. So why is Musk expected to?

    An individual or private company shouldn’t get directly involved in wars. That’s very dangerous to them. If the US or EU governments buy stuff from SpaceX then donate it, that’s very different from SpaceX doing it themselves.

    The terminals and service sent to Ukraine cost twice as much as regular home terminals because they are the equivalent of business accounts, which provide a higher level of service.

    SpaceX is at very real risk of going broke at the moment. They need to expand Starlink hugely to get cash coming in, but they can’t do that until they get the Starship/Superheavy rocket flying. They have literally warehouses full of satellites that have been built but can’t be launched because they don’t fit inside Falcon 9.

    Also, as noted, Starlink can now operate in Ukraine because the Ukrainian government gave (begged) them a license to. That’s not the situation in Iran.

    China has recently been demanding assurances from SpaceX that they will NOT enable Starlink in China. I’ll bet Russia doesn’t want it either.

    If Musk goes against those kinds of people then he’s going to need Putin-level personal security.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      If my memory serves me I recall that SpaceX set up Internet service to Ukraine to cope with the anticipated loss of communications due to Russia's action. It was a humanitarian gesture that was never intended to be part of US policy or Ukraine military planning. As it turned out communications with Ukraine haven't stopped but they are subject to serious censorship by the UA government. (Amateur radio got shut down though.)

      What did happen is the systems have been used as ad hoc battlefield communications systems. They're not designed for this so its only a matter of time before countermeasures are deployed against them. The US government's desire to use them offensively in other countries means that SpaceX, for better or worse, is now a defense contractor. Their equipment, facilities and even their personnel become fair game.

      Anyone from the US will tell you that our politicians go ape at the mere mention of 'foreign interference' in our politics. This can be nothing more offensive than a foreigner suggesting that something we're doing isn't right. We actually practice quite effective censorship in the US, not quite as heavy handed as on the Continent, but information reaching us about foreign situations (not just Ukraine) is heavily curated just in case we might get infected by it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. So why is Musk expected to?

      because he said he would. Instead of a stream of fucktweets he should have said: for 6 moths or whatever, and we're entering into negotiations with US state department about past that date.

      That said, on top of him being a megalomaniac prick with his own ambitions to grind (a saint that helped the Good Cause, and then, how about starlink for Ukraine AND for Russia), there's a lot to blame on US administration, for not having CLEAR rules of starlink engagement established very soon after the war broke out in Feb. As if everybody thought: oh, Musk and starlink and Ukraine, how cool, let's think about something _really_ important!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. The terminals and service sent to Ukraine cost twice as much

      yes and no. There's neither exact nor even rough estimate of how many of those terminals are 'equivalent of business accounts' (so, by the way, WHO gets the extra money for that 'business'?) and I personally heard - gossip, i.e. unverified account, that there is a number (again no figures) of starlink accounts in Ukraine which are used by the Ukrainian military, but run as 'home' accounts, i.e. purchased by individuals. Plus a large - again, no figures - number of those terminals and subscriptions have been paid from funds set up by other countries (or other countries' organisations). That's about a 'bussiness account', though there might be (and possibly is) a real difference in terms of business 'service' that goes along with those account, for example, different hardware, different encryption level, etc. Which costs more. But again, how many, %-wise are real 'business accounts' and how many are regular 'home accounts - fuck knows.

      I realize that the 'fog of war' about the real cost and profits of running starlink in Ukraine is due to business secrecy, and the competition are watching very, very closely. But then, if Musk can bullshit and decry that he can't fund all those accounts for ever, people can equally call him a bullshitter, because they claim a huge number of those terminals are paid for by 3rd parties.

    4. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      "They have literally warehouses full of satellites that have been built but can’t be launched "

      So what's the down-side?

      "If Musk goes against those kinds of people then he’s going to need Putin-level personal security."

      Thank <deity> astronomers are generally non-violent, eh?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Thank <deity> astronomers are generally non-violent, eh?"

        Big Banger Vs Steady State --- FIGHT!!!!!

  8. icesenshi

    "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."

    Musk doesn't want to provide internet indefinitely to Ukraine and Iran, and suddenly gets investigated for national security. What a coincidence.

  9. Scene it all

    I think the spokesperson for the US State Department is being a bit optimistic about what "rights" the people of Iran are supposed to have.

  10. Pol

    Biden is getting weird, soon he will turn into Trump from IQ aspect.

    What does he think Iranians will be able to do when Starlink beams signals onto Iranian territory?

    Will Iranians turn their TV antennas toward sky and expect internet access?

    Starlink requires end user hardware specific to the service. It is only sold by Starlink and cannot be found in Iran.

    I prey God to give at least an average intellect to our politicians.

  11. TM™
    Big Brother


    With American help, Iranians will soon be as free as the rest of us.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Biden's standard MoA

    Criticize and demonize and then go hat in hand and ask for a favor to please help.

    What a loser.

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