(Photo Credit: AFP)
On 2 August, The US Department of Justice (DOJ) asked Argentinian authorities for permission to confiscate an Iranian plane sold to Venezuelan owners, after its crew was accused of having ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The unannounced arrival of the plane to Argentina on 8 June sparked controversy within the Argentinian government over its ties with Iran, Venezuela, and other companies sanctioned by the US.
According to DOJ, the recent confiscation request followed the unsealing of a warrant for the seizure of the plane of 19 July, over charges of violating export control laws.
The DOJ said the US-origin Boeing 747-300 aircraft is subject to sanctions due to its sale from Iran’s Mahan Air to Emtrasur last year, part of the Venezuelan Consortium of Aeronautical Industries and Air Services. Both companies are sanctioned by the United States for alleged collaboration with the IRGC.
On the same day, the Argentinian authorities released only a few of the Venezuelan cargo plane’s aviation instructors, after Iran urged they do so immediately.
Argentinian federal judge Federico Villenajudge, who is in charge of the investigation of the Iranian crew members, said that 12 of the 19 crew members must stay in the country until the investigation has concluded.
Last month, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro visited the Islamic Republic of Iran to sign a 20-year cooperation agreement.
Both President Maduro and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi praised their shared success in overcoming US sanctions.
“Sanctions and threats against the Iranian nation over the past 40 plus years have been numerous, but the Iranian nation has turned these sanctions into an opportunity for progress,” Raisi stated.
The seizure of the aircraft, previously owned by Iran, occurred soon after the US illegally seized an Iranian oil ship using Greece as the enforcing agent.
In retaliation, the IRGC Navy seized two Greek oil tankers.