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US to push export of Internet gadgets despite sanctions

Despite US concerted efforts to impose tough sanctions on Iran, Washington says it will allow technology companies to export Internet services to Iran, Cuba and Sudan.

The move is a bid aimed at exploiting the libertarian potential of the three countries, The New York Times reported late Sunday.

“The more people have access to a range of Internet technology and services, the harder it’s going to be for the Iranian government to clamp down on their speech and free expression,” the paper quoted a senior administration official as saying.

The unnamed official added that the Treasury Department will issue a general license on Monday allowing the export of free personal Internet services such as instant messaging, chat and photo sharing as well as software to the three countries.

The move will allow Internet services providers including Microsoft and Yahoo to remove restrictions and offer Internet services, the daily said.

The US and its European allies have been pushing hard for tougher sanctions against Iran, claiming its nuclear program is pursuing military ends. The allegation, however, has never been validated by the UN nuclear watchdog, whose inspectors have been monitoring Iran’s activities regularly and extensively.

Iran, a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, says its program is directed at the civilian applications of the technology, including energy production.

Western countries have already imposed three rounds of UNSC-backed sanctions on Iran and are currently lobbying for a fourth, which is believed to contain a “symbolic” tightening of economic measures against the Tehran government, which has maintained that any such actions will again prove futile.

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