Not long ago, I posted on an announcement by Samsung that it was closing its app store for Iranian customers. I speculated that paid apps were at least part of the problem because they were not covered by the 2010 OFAC general license permitting export of “services and software incident to the exchange of personal communications over the Internet.”
Well, that problem has just gone away. On Friday, OFAC issued General License D which expands the aforementioned general license to cover both fee-based services and software. It covers personal communications hardware as well, specifically mentioning, not surprisingly, “smartphones.”
That is all well and good, and certainly looks good on paper, but don’t imagine that the folks at Apple are giving each other the iFives over the prospect of selling iPhones in Iran. Nothing in General License D gets over the slight problem of how anyone actually gets paid for goods and services exported to Iran no matter how permissible those exports might be. U.S. banks cannot deal directly with Iranian banks and foreign banks, scared of potential sanctions under CISADA, increasingly refuse to deal with Iranian banks.
But if anyone wants to give away smartphones in Iran, have at it.