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US sanctions responsible for death of Iranian president, says former foreign minister

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash on Sunday – and the country’s former foreign minister believes US sanctions are partly to blame.

Raisi, 63, and other senior officials were killed after the helicopter they were traveling in was forced to make a “hard landing” over northwest Iran, the media said. ‘IRNA Ahmad Vahidi, the country’s interior minister.

State television said the helicopter had crashed into a mountain. Although there is no official statement on the cause, images from the accident site capture by ISNA, Iran’s student news agency, showed that thick fog persisted over the region.

Several media outlets, including Reuters, said the helicopter was an American-made Bell 212, a model that first entered service in 1968 and ceased production in 1998.

Former Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said US sanctions – which ban Iran from buying US-built planes – could be partly to blame.

In a telephone interview with state television on Monday, Zarif said sanctions prevent Iran from having good aviation facilities.

According to part of an interview cited by Iran International and the ISNA news agency, he said the accident that killed Raisi would be “recorded on the blacklist of American crimes against the Iranian nation.”

The United States has imposed various sanctions against Iran since the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran in 1979. Economic sanctions, including those targeting the aviation industry, were reinstated in 2018 after the United States withdrew from their nuclear agreement.

According to the Washington Institute, a US think tank, Iranian airlines are prohibited from purchasing planes containing more than 10% US parts.

That will likely complicate the process of updating or repairing U.S.-made planes that the country purchased before sanctions took effect.

Iranian airlines operate some of the oldest planes in the world, according to Bloomberg, which estimates the average age of their fleet at more than 25 years.

According to U.S. military training documents cited by Reuters, the Bell 212 was developed for the Canadian military in the late 1960s and first used by Canada and the United States in 1971.

There have been several accidents involving a Bell 212 over the years, including a 1997 crash in Louisiana where eight people died, according to First Post.

In 2009, a Bell 212 operated by Cougar Helicopters crashed off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. The incident, which killed 17 of the 18 people on board, was the result of an emergency landing after the plane lost oil pressure in one of its engines, First Post said.

The most recent fatal accident involving a Bell 212 occurred in September when a private plane crashed off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, according to the nonprofit Flight Safety Foundation, cited by Reuters. It is not known how many passengers were on board.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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