A company that works for American spies and generals has quietly started providing Internet service to the Islamic Republic. What’s going on here?
Nestled in a suburban Washington, D.C., office park, across the street from a shopping mall, a technology company that counts the U.S. Defense Department as its biggest customer is charting out a new frontier: providing Internet service to Iran.
But GTT Communications Inc.—headquartered in McLean, Virginia, just a 15-minute drive from the headquarters of the CIA and hired by various unnamed U.S. intelligence agencies and satellite operators—hasn’t exactly been touting its new venture.
The company has issued no press release about its deal with an undersea cable network that sells Internet services to Iran and other Persian Gulf. (One of the cables comes ashore at the city of Bushehr, home to a nuclear plant that’s been the subject of intense debate about its role in Iran’s nuclear program.)
Instead, the partnership was announced in a single tweet last May; both parties have been largely silent about the deal since then. When contacted by The Daily Beast for details about the deal with the Doha-based submarine cable operator, Gulf Bridge International, a GTT spokesperson said the agreement wouldn’t be finalized for a few more weeks.
And yet technical data shows that GTT was providing Internet service to Iran for months.
The Islamic Republic has been off limits to most U.S. companies for years. A complex sanctions regime, meant in part to isolate the regime in Tehran and obstruct its efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon, bars the sale of good and services by many American companies, including through intermediaries.
But last year, the Treasury Department, which administers the sanctions program, issued new rules (PDF) authorizing the sale of “consumer-grade Intemet connectivity services.” That created an opening for GTT, as well as any other American companies that want to cash in on the Iranian market for Internet service, which is booming thanks in large part to a surge of new mobile phone users in the country.Read the rest of the story HERE and follow a link to a technology related article below:
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