The United States has confiscated a Boeing 747 cargo plane that was originally sold by Iran‘s Mahan Air to Venezuela‘s state-owned airline Emtrasur, igniting a diplomatic dispute between the involved nations. The seizure was announced by the US Department of Justice on Monday, following Argentina‘s grounding of the aircraft 18 months ago. The US alleges that the sale violated its sanctions against Iran.
According to Washington, Mahan Air’s transaction with Emtrasur breached sanctions due to Mahan Air’s connections with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). This prompted Argentina to immobilize the plane in July 2022. Assistant Secretary of Export Enforcement Matthew S Axelrod stated that the aircraft now belongs to the US government, as Mahan Air’s sale to Emtrasur breached export restrictions.
Iran quickly condemned the US’s actions, labeling them as illegal and a violation of the UN Charter. The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Nasser Kanaani, expressed unwavering support for Venezuela in reclaiming ownership of the Boeing, asserting that Iran stands firmly behind Venezuela’s legal and diplomatic endeavors.
Venezuela, in response, denounced the move as a ‘shameful rapacious operation’ and pledged to pursue all available avenues to restore justice and regain possession of the aircraft. Meanwhile, the US administration faced criticism from Iran and Venezuela for its involvement in the seizure and subsequent disposition of the cargo plane.
The US Justice Department alleged that the registered captain of the aircraft had ties to the IRGC and Fars Air Qeshm, an entity purportedly linked to IRGC’s extraterritorial operations. Since the grounding by Argentinian authorities, the US has been actively seeking control of the plane for disposal.
As the cargo plane arrives in Florida under US custody, the Justice Department has outlined plans for its disposal without providing further details. The escalating tensions between the US, Iran, and Venezuela over the ownership of the Boeing 747 highlight the complex interplay of international sanctions and regional power dynamics.
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