Following Argentina’s 1.5-year grounding of the aircraft, the US Department of Justice declared yesterday that it had assumed control of the aircraft. The United States claims that Iranian Mahan Air breached the sanctions on Tehran by selling the aircraft to Venezuela two years ago.
Because of the airline’s ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Washington has placed sanctions on it. According to Washington, Mahan Air broke these restrictions when it sold the planes to Emtrasur in Venezuela. Argentina grounded the jumbo jet in July 2022 after the agreement.
“Mahan Air – known to ferry weapons and fighters for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah – violated our export restrictions by selling this airplane to a Venezuelan cargo airline. Now, it’s property of the United States government,” asserted an Assistant Secretary of Export Enforcement.
The IRGC is an essential economic and military part of the Iranian state, but since 2019 the United States has been considering it as a “foreign terrorist organization” by enacting the harshest sweeping sanctions against it.
Tehran and Caracas Response
Iran quickly criticized the US action. In a brief statement, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Nasser Kanaani denounced it as “illegal.” He said that it went against the United Nations Charter, and promised to assist Caracas in returning the Boeing.
He declared that The Islamic Republic of Iran declares its unwavering backing for the constitutional and diplomatic initiatives of Venezuela to reclaim control of and access to the its assets and property. Without providing specifics, the Venezuelan government described the transfer as a “shameful rapacious operation” and pledged to “take all actions to restore justice and achieve the restitution of the aircraft to its legitimate owner.”
Argentina was denounced by the government for “colluding” with the United States and breaching international aviation laws as well as Emtrasur’s rights.
The enrolled captain of the plane was a former IRGC staff and an investor and board member of Fars Air Qeshm, which the US claims is connected to the IRGC branch’s foreign operations Quds Force. The latter is in responsible for conducting operations beyond Iran, according to court papers cited by the Justice Department of the United States.
The United States has been attempting to get control of the aircraft ever since Argentinean officials grounded it. The US Justice Department stated that when the jet reaches Florida, it would be disposed of. It was manufactured in the US. No further details were provided.