US sanctions UAE-based firms over Iran’s Mahan Air

US Treasury accuses two UAE based firms of providing material support to Iran’s Mahan Air.

Iran Mahan Air
The Trump administration has steadily racheted up the pressure on Iran through successive rounds of economic sanctions that have continued unbated throughout the coronavirus pandemic [File: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters]

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on two United Arab Emirates-based companies, the US Treasury Department said, accusing them of providing material support to Iranian airline Mahan Air.

The Treasury in a statement said Parthia Cargo and Delta Parts Supply FZC provided key parts and logistics services for Mahan Air, which is blacklisted under US measures. The department also slapped sanctions on Amin Mahdavi, a UAE-based Iranian national, for owning or controlling Parthia Cargo.

“Together, these companies have provided key parts and logistics services for Mahan Air, which is designated under counterterrorism authorities for support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), as well as under a counter proliferation authority that targets weapons of mass destruction proliferators and their supporters,” said a statement on the Treasury website.

The administration of President Donald Trump plans this week to push for a reimposition of all United Nations sanctions on Iran, after the UN Security Council rejected Washington’s earlier bid to extend an arms embargo on the country.

“The Iranian regime uses Mahan Air as a tool to spread its destabilizing agenda around the world, including to the corrupt regimes in Syria and Venezuela,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

“The United States will continue to take action against those supporting this airline,” he added.

Wednesday’s action freezes any US assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.

The Treasury said services provided by the two blacklisted companies help Mahan Air sustain its fleet and allow it to carry out activities in support of Tehran. These include transporting “terrorists and lethal cargo to Syria” in support of President Bashar al-Assad and recently transporting Iranian technicians and technical equipment to Venezuela, the department said.

Separately, criminal charges were filed against Parthia Cargo and Mahdavi on Monday by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. The charges relate to the alleged unlicensed re-export of US-export controlled aircraft parts to Iran, the Treasury said.

An affidavit filed in court by an FBI agent to support the criminal charges alleges that Mahdavi, managing director of Parthia Cargo, in 2017 acknowledged to US officials that he knew a US government licence was needed to ship US aircraft parts to Iran.

But Mahdavi went ahead and shipped an aircraft part to an Iranian air transport company without obtaining a license, the Justice Department said. It accused Mahdavi and Parthia Cargo of criminally conspiring with companies and individuals outside the US, and falsely telling a US parts supplier goods would not be shipped to Iran without US government permission.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have spiked since Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal struck by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and began reimposing sanctions that had been eased under the accord.

Source: Reuters