Sanctions target Iran’s ‘Air Force One’

US Treasury Department said sanctions were being imposed on Dena Airways, which handles government flights.
Sunday 10/06/2018
Iranian President Hassan Rohani steps out of his plane upon arrival at the Shahid Beheshti airport in the city of Isfahan, on May 14. (AP)
Iranian President Hassan Rohani steps out of his plane upon arrival at the Shahid Beheshti airport in the city of Isfahan, on May 14. (AP)

BEIRUT - The Americans’ drive to cripple Iran’s alleged air bridge for troops and weapons to Syria and other Middle Eastern flashpoints has been extended to a company that provides the airliners used by President Hassan Rohani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on official visits.

The US Treasury Department said sanctions were being imposed on Dena Airways, which handles government flights, under a 2002 presidential order intended to “impede terrorist funding.”

Officials said Dena Airways only operates two airliners, a 19-year-old Airbus A340-300 and an Airbus A321-200, which are Iran’s version of Air Force One, the Boeing VC-25 — an extensively modified Boeing 747-200B — used by the US president.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said two Iranians linked to Dena Airways and a Turkish businessman named Gulnihal Yegane are also being targeted by sanctions along with three aviation companies linked to Yegane.

All have been designated “global terrorists.”

Mnuchin warned that countries and companies around the world risk punitive US action if they grant landing rights to Iranian airliners and provide services.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on May 21 that, unless Iran complied with US demands to halt transporting fighters, weapons and funds to Iranian and allied forces across the Middle East, Tehran faces “the strongest sanctions in history.”

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