Iran blasts US ‘theft’ of jumbo jet sold to Venezuela

The Cradle, February 13, 2024 —

Washington took possession of the seized plane in Florida and claims it will be dismantled and scrapped.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani on 13 February condemned Washington’s “illegal seizure” of a Boeing 747 cargo plane that Tehran sold to Venezuelan state airline Emtrasur.

“Washington’s illicit act of seizing and transferring the Boeing 747-300 plane belonging to Venezuelan company Emtrasur is a hijacking and comes as a result of unilateral coercive measures from the North American country,” Kanaani told reporters on Tuesday.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran announces its decisive support for the legal and diplomatic efforts of Venezuela to regain ownership and access to the possessions and belongings of the country,” he added.

Venezuela categorically rejected the “blatant theft” of the aircraft and accused the far-right government of Argentina of conspiring with Washington to “violate all laws that regulate civil aeronautics, as well as the commercial, civil and political rights that assist [Emtrasur], placing aeronautical safety in the region at risk.”

“Free and sovereign Venezuela will give a forceful, direct, and proportionate response to this attack, for which it will use all available resources within the framework of the constitution, diplomacy, and International Law,” the statement from Caracas states.

The US Department of Justice announced late on Monday it had taken custody of the aircraft in Florida after Buenos Aires grounded it 18 months ago, sparking a diplomatic crisis between the Latin American nations. According to Washington, the plane will be dismantled and discarded.

The US alleges that the sale of the plane to Venezuela in 2022 by Iran’s Mahan Air violated its sanctions on the Islamic Republic, claiming Mahan Air is “affiliated” with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

“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,” US Assistant Secretary of Export Enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod said in a statement on 12 February.

The sale was part of a 20-year cooperation contract between Tehran and Caracas.

An Argentine court ruled last October that there was no evidence to charge two Venezuelans and three Iranians who were part of the crew for links to terrorist activities for which they were being investigated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *