US Seizes Plane Following Iran’s Sale Attempt to Venezuela

( – The United States has strict sanctions against various entities in Iran. Argentina grounded an aircraft after the US determined its sale violated sanctions. Now, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken custody of the plane.

On February 12, the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs issued a press release announcing the US had the Boeing 747 cargo plane. According to the announcement, Argentina transferred custody of the plane the day before. Mahan Air, an Iranian company, previously owned the plane. The US had previously sanctioned the airline for its connection to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp-Qods Force (IRGC-QF). America has designated the IRGC-QF as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

The transfer was the result of an order of forfeiture that the US District Court for the District of Columbia on May 3, 2023. The US issued a seizure warrant for the plane in 2022 and the government of Argentina enforced it quickly. The DOJ argued the transfer of the plane from Mahan Air to a Venezuelan company violated the US export control laws. There was a Department of Commerce Temporary Denial Order against the Iranian airline which prohibited it from being involved in a transaction that included any commodity exported from the US.

Nasser Kanaani, the spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, condemned the US for seizing the plane, calling it “illegal.” He claimed it was a violation of the United Nations Charter and promised to help reclaim the aircraft.

Matthew S. Axelrod, the assistant secretary of Export Enforcement, stated Mahan Air is “known to ferry weapons and fighters for the” IRGC-QF and Hizballah. He went on to say the seizure of the plane was “a powerful example of [America’s] unceasing efforts to prevent Iran” and its allies from “leveraging and profiting from [US] technology.”

The Boeing plane was transported to the Southern District of Florida. The DOJ said it will now be “prepared for disposition.”

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