Ukraine crisis: the United States sanctions three Iranian planes for their links with Russia

LONDON – The US Commerce Department has sanctioned three Iranian planes for their ties to Russia amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

It is understood that three Boeing 747s operated by Mahan Air, Qeshm Fars Air and Iran Air are the planes in question.

The ministry said the planes violate export controls on Russia, as the planes are used to transport goods, including electronic items, to Russia.

With that in mind, there are now 183 aircraft on the US Commerce Department’s denial list. This is understood to be a result of the breakdown of talks in Vienna over the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal.

The West has been accused of not taking the talks seriously enough, with Iran keen to strike a deal so sanctions can be eased.

Half of all planes belonging to Iran are actually operational…

It has emerged that half of all planes registered in Iran are in fact operational due to a lack of parts amid Western sanctions.

Omid Khansari of Khuzestan Air Travel and Tourism Services told ISNA the following:

“Most airline-owned planes are grounded because they need parts, and it’s impossible to supply them because of the sanctions.”

He mentioned that out of the 340 aircraft registered in Iran, around 120 to 130 are actually operational.

The sanctions in question are linked to the suspension of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement, which at the time allowed Iran to buy new planes from Boeing and Airbus.

A few Airbus planes were delivered to Iran Air, but the Trump administration quickly pulled out of the deal in 2018.

Is Iran helping Russia accordingly?

Last July, the Iranian government announced it would supply Russia with aircraft parts as sanctions continue to mount.

Such an agreement was part of a comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries which would also see the number of weekly flights increased to 35.

It would be a mix of cargo and passenger flights. And under the MoU, there would be no capacity restrictions, meaning more flights could take place in the future.

A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Organization in Iran said the following:

“Iranian and Russian officials present at the meeting stressed the need to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the field of air transport.”

“It was also decided to sign a cooperation agreement with Russia with a view to providing the possibility of exporting parts and equipment manufactured in Iran to Russia as well as carrying out repair and maintenance services and a technical support of Russian aircraft by Iranian repair centers”.

With that in mind, there is nothing stopping the Iranians from ordering more Russian planes in the future, if the Biden administration’s stance on the JCPOA does not change.

JCPOA is dead for now…

With Iran helping the Russians in this way, it is clear that the JCPOA nuclear deal is as clear as dead unless a change of direction is made.

With the Ukraine crisis still in play, it will only further strengthen the ties between Iran and Russia, which will certainly put additional pressure on the United States to impose more sanctions.

Whether in the materials needed to develop aircraft parts or more. It’s really not as clear as people think.

It will be interesting to see how far the Russians go further in their relations with Iran, especially with additional flights in the region and more.

Christi C. Elwood