By Shahriar Kia
Germany’s foreign ministry announced that it revoked the license of an Iranian commercial airline on Monday because of the airline’s role in helping to transport military equipment and fighters to Middle East war zones, including Syria.
A German foreign ministry representative said that Mahan Air’s ban takes immediate effect.
However, a German government source said that the ban did not signal plans for the reimposition of broader sanctions against Iran or the withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement, which the US pulled out of last May.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin welcomed the ban on Monday, calling it an “important decision”.
He said: “The US Treasury appreciates the important decision by Germany to deny Mahan Air’s landing rights. Mahan routinely flies IRGC-QF and weapons to Syria, is subject to our terrorism secondary sanctions, and should be denied access around the world.”
While Richard Grenell, the US ambassador in Berlin who has long objected to Mahan Air landing in Germany, also welcomed the ban.
He said: “Mahan Air has flown terrorists, weapons, equipment, and funds to international locations to support Iranian terrorist proxy groups. Iran’s use of Mahan Air to support the [Bashar] Assad regime in Syria, for example, has contributed to incredible human suffering, violence, and political instability felt across the world.”
Mahan Air was established as Iran’s first private airline in 1992 and has regular flights to a number of European countries, including France, Italy, Spain and Greece, but is often cited as being used for the Regime’s military aims.
The US, who imposed sanctions on Mahan Air in 2011 for providing financial and material support to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), put heavy pressure on its European allies to take action.
German government representative Steffen Seibert denied that US pressure was the reason for the ban, citing German “security needs” as the top consideration.
He said: “It cannot be ruled out that this airline could also transport cargo to Germany that threatens our security. This is based on knowledge of past terrorist activities by Iran in Europe.”
However, Europe has come under US pressure to reimpose sanctions on Iran since the US pulled out of the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA), in May 2018. Europe, along with China and Russia, is trying to keep Iran committed to the deal in order to prevent Iran from creating a nuclear bomb, but the truth is that Iran has continued its nuclear programme regardless.