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Apple’s iPhone Could Be Banned in Iran

Jul 19, 2016

Apple doesn't sell iPhones in Iran, but that won't stop the country from trying to ban them.

The Iranian government has issued an ultimatum to Apple (aapl) to either register to sell products and start selling iPhones there or face a ban on its smartphones, The Japan Times is reporting, citing Iranian news agency outlets. Iran has given Apple just a "few days" to register or "all iPhones will be collected from the market," the Tasnim News Agency reported, according to The Japan Times.

Apple-tracking site Cult of Mac earlier reported on the story.

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Iran's move highlights the strange underground iPhone market that has developed in the region. Apple doesn't actually sell iPhones directly to Iranian customers, but millions of iPhones are believed to be in use in the country. Those people have bought iPhones through smugglers, who purchased them in other countries and brought them to Iran's black market.

For its part, Apple has reportedly tried to open a store in Iran. Last year after the U.S. signed its nuclear pact with Iran, the government lifted sanctions on American companies operating in the country. Soon after, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple had been holding discussions with distributors that could sell its products in Iran. So far, however, nothing has come of those deals, and smugglers continue to funnel iPhones into the country.

While Apple's iPhone was reportedly cited in the Iranian report, it's not the only device that could be affected by the new sanctions. The regulation targets any smuggled smartphone and requires that any legitimate smartphone be registered with the country's telecommunications user database, according to The Japan Times. With an estimated 40 million Iranians currently using smartphones and the country's strong appetite for American products, that could make the regulation difficult to police.

Regardless, Iran will reportedly try, and the iPhone will be one of its chief targets. That is, unless Apple decides to play by Tehran's rules and register a store to sell products—something the government reportedly says it can do.

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Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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