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US seizes plane sold by Iran to Venezuela | Political news

The United States says Iran violated its sanctions by selling the jumbo jet to Venezuela.

Tehran, Iran – The United States seized a Boeing 747 cargo plane that Iran had sold to a Venezuelan national airline, drawing condemnation from Tehran.

The U.S. Justice Department announced late Monday that it had taken custody of the plane after Argentina grounded it 18 months ago. Washington says the sale of the plane to Venezuela in 2022 by the Iranian company Mahan Air violated its sanctions against Tehran.

The United States imposed sanctions on the airline due to its affiliation with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Mahan Air’s sale of the plane to Venezuelan company Emtrasur violated those sanctions, Washington said. Following the deal, Argentina grounded the jumbo jet in July 2022.

“Mahan Air – known for transporting weapons and fighters for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah – violated our export restrictions by selling this aircraft to a Venezuelan cargo airline. Now it is the property of the United States government,” Assistant Secretary of Export Enforcement Matthew S Axelrod said in a statement.

Since the United States began imposing its toughest unilateral sanctions on Iran in 2019, Washington has treated the IRGC – a crucial military and economic component of the Iranian establishment – ​​as a “foreign terrorist organization.”

“Personal possessions and effects”

Iran was quick to criticize the US decision. Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani condemned it as “illegal” in a brief statement, said it violated the United Nations Charter and pledged to help Caracas recover the Boeing.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran announces its decisive support for Venezuela’s legal and diplomatic efforts to recover ownership and access to the country’s possessions and assets,” he said.

The Venezuelan government called the transfer a “shameful operation of rapacity” and pledged to “take all measures to restore justice and obtain the return of the plane to its rightful owner”, without giving details of the measures. detailed.

The administration of Nicolas Maduro, allied with Tehran, condemned Argentina for “collusion” with the United States and violation of international aviation regulations and the rights of Emtrasur.

The U.S. Department of Justice cited court documents saying the plane’s registered captain was a former IRGC commander and a shareholder and board member of Fars Air Qeshm, which the U.S. claims to be affiliated with the foreign operations of the Quds Force branch of the IRGC. responsible for operations outside Iran.

Since the Argentine authorities grounded the plane, the United States has been seeking to take possession of it.

The US Department of Justice said the American-built plane should be destroyed after arriving in Florida. He did not give further details.

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