The US seizes a Venezuelan aircraft sold by Iran

An Iranian-sold Boeing 747 cargo aircraft was confiscated by the United States, inciting condemnation from Tehran.

Late on Monday, the United States Department of Justice announced that it had seized the aircraft from Argentina, where it had been grounded for eighteen months. The United States alleges that Iran’s Mahan Air’s 2022 transfer of the aircraft to Venezuela violated sanctions imposed on Tehran.

The airline has been sanctioned by the United States due to its association with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which Washington has designated as a “foreign terrorist organisation” since 2019. According to Washington, Mahan Air’s transfer of the aircraft to Venezuela’s Emtrasur was in violation of these sanctions. In July 2022, Argentina grounded the jumbo jet in compliance with the agreement.

“Our export restrictions were violated when Mahan Air, known to transport fighters and munitions for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah, sold this aircraft to a Venezuelan cargo airline. It is now the property of the United States government,” said Matthew S. Axelrod, assistant secretary for export enforcement, in a statement.The US seizes a Venezuelan aircraft sold by Iran

Iran swiftly condemned the American action. Nasser Kanaani, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, labelled it “illegal” and a violation of the United Nations Charter, pledging support for Caracas in reclaiming the Boeing.

‘Possessions and belongings’

“The Islamic Republic of Iran unequivocally declares its unwavering support for Venezuela’s legal and diplomatic efforts to reclaim ownership and access to the nation’s property and assets,” he stated.

The Venezuelan government condemned the transfer as a “horrendous and avaricious operation” and pledged to “take every possible action to reinstate justice and ensure the aircraft is returned to its rightful owner,” without specifying measures.

Tehran’s government, led by Nicolas Maduro, accused Argentina of “colluding” with the United States and violating Emtrasur’s rights and international aeronautics regulations.

The US Justice Department cited court documents stating the aircraft’s registered captain was a former IRGC commander and a shareholder and board member of Fars Air Qeshm, an organisation the US claims is affiliated with the Quds Force of the IRGC branch responsible for operations outside Iran.

Since the aircraft’s grounding by Argentine authorities, the United States has sought its seizure.

The Department of Justice stated that the aircraft, manufactured in the United States, is slated for disposal once it reaches Florida, providing no further details.

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