WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Treasury has imposed sanctions on nine Iranian individuals and entities for helping to supply export-controlled parts and services to sanctioned Iranian airlines.
The Treasury said on May 24 that the “facilitators designated” by its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) provided assistance to sanctioned Iranian airlines including Mahan Air, Caspian Air, Meraj Air, and Pouya Air.
“In so doing, they extend a lifeline to the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF)] and enable the Iranian regime to transport weapons, fighters, and money to its proxies, including Hizballah, and to prop up the brutal Assad regime,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“The deceptive practices these airlines employ to illegally obtain services and U.S. goods is yet another example of the duplicitous ways in which the Iranian regime has operated,” he added.
The Treasury statement said sanctioned Iranian airlines, particularly Mahan Air, have played a “critical role in exporting the Iranian regime’s malign influence.”
Mahan Air was sanctioned in 2011 for its alleged support of the hard-line IRGC-QF by helping to ferry operatives, weapons, equipment, and funds to international locations “in furtherance of Iranian state-sponsored terror operations.”
OFAC said it was adding two entities to its sanctions list -- Iran-based Blue Airways and Turkey-based Otik Aviation, in connection with Mahan Air.
The Treasury also sanctioned Turkish citizen Gulnihal Yegane and a network of Istanbul-based firms, including Trigron Lojistik, RA Havacilik, and 3G Lojistik, for providing assistance to Mahan Air.
The move comes two days after the Treasury announced sanctions targeting Iranian officials associated with the IRGC-QF and Iran’s ballistic-missile programs.
Mnuchin on May 22 said their actions helped enable the Huthi rebels in Yemen to launch missiles at Saudi cities and oil infrastructure and at U.S. Navy assets in international waters.
Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran are involved in what has been called a proxy war in Yemen, where Tehran supports the Shi'ite Huthi rebels fighting against the Saudi-backed Yemeni government.
U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a hard line on Iran, accusing it of supporting militant violence in the region and of illegally testing ballistic missiles. He pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal, which provided Tehran with sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program and vowed to reinstitute tough sanctions against Iran.