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iPhones to be exported to Iran legally for the first time as US lifts communications ban

The US had banned the sale of mobile phones and other communications devices to pressure Iran on its nuclear program.

Us iran tech ban iphones liftedEnlarge
A shopkeeper counts money after selling a iPhone 3G version offered on the black market by an independent telephone shop in Hong Kong. The US has lifted a ban on the sale of mobile phones and other devices in Iran. (Andrew Ross/AFP/Getty Images)

Iranians will soon be joining the Apple cult. 

The United States Thursday lifted its ban on the sale of mobile phones and other communications devices and software in Iran, which has been in place since 1992 as a way to put pressure on Tehran to stop developing its nuclear program. 

"As the Iranian government attempts to silence its people by cutting off their communication with each other and the rest of the world, the United States will continue to take action to help the Iranian people exercise their universal human rights, including the right to freedom of expression," said US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

The US Department of the Treasury has also issued a license authorizing the exports of mobile devices, including the iPhone. 

On the flip side, the State Department has imposed visa restrictions on nearly 60 other Iranian officials and others "who participated in the commission of human rights abuses related to political repression in Iran," the Treasury said in a separate statement

The move comes just weeks before Iran's June 14 presidential elections, and was welcomed by many Iranians. 

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

Iranians living in the US have complained in recent years that Apple stores would not sell them devices, fearing that they would be illegally shipped and sold on Iran's black market, according to BBC News.

More from GlobalPost: Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei is on Instagram

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130530/iphones-exported-iran-us-lifts-communications-ban-sanctions