Iran's telecommunications minister said his country will legally sue a recent decision by Apple for removing Iranian apps from its App Store, Tehran Times daily reported on Friday. Apple said it focused on removing apps that could potentially send Iranian money into Apple's accounts.
Salehi-Isfahani said there has already been much uncertainty about foreign investment, and Apple's removal of Iranian apps could be a sign that the company believes the accord may be in jeopardy.
"11 percent of the cellphone market in Iran belongs to Apple", he wrote according to a New York Times translation.
The OFAC email also said that in case the Iranian developers do not succeed in convincing Apple to bring back their software products back to the App Store, they can apply for exemption from the USA government.
Over the Iranian weekend, several other applications have also been removed including Tap30, Snapp (two ride-hailing apps), Hamloo (parcel delivery service) and Reyhoon (food delivery service).
"Under the U.S. sanctions regulations, the App Store can not host, distribute or do business with apps or developers connected to certain USA embargoed countries", the company told Iranian developers.
Taghizadeh pointed out that while some Iranian apps had been removed, others were still available on App Store.
"As a USA company, we remain committed to full compliance with USA export controls and sanctions", a Google spokesperson said. Giving respect to consumer rights is a principle today which Apple has not followed.
Many Iranians using social media criticized the Apple decision and have created #StopRemovingIranianApps to show their anger over the move. We will follow up the cutting of the apps legally.
Ali Maleki, who works for Iran's biggest e-commerce site Digikala, said the apps were shut down around 10 days ago. Barack Obama's administration eased restrictions on USA tech companies that offered Internet services in Iran as a way of encouraging a free flow of information, especially among younger Iranians.
But the Trump administration has adopted a more hawkish posture, putting the 2016 nuclear deal under review, modifying the existing sanction regime and then introducing a fresh round of sanctions last month in response to Iranian ballistic missile tests.