A view of the Boeing 747 aircraft registered with the number YV3531 of Venezuelan Emtrasur Cargo airline, at the Cordoba International airport in Argentina, June 6, 2022

Iran Denies Links With Impounded Aircraft In Argentina

Monday, 06/13/2022

Iran has denied that a Boeing 747 impounded in Argentina over links with the Revolutionary Guard belongs to any Iranian aviation company. 

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a weekly press conference on Monday that the grounded plane operating for the cargo division of Venezuelan national carrier Conviasa does not belong to Iran’s Mahan Airlines. The United States sanctioned the airline in 2008 for its links to Tehran’s extraterritorial intelligence and secret ops outfit, the Quds (Qods) Force. 

Khatibzadeh, however, confirmed that some of the crew on the plane – which was seized upon arrival in Buenos Aires on June 6 -- were Iranians, noting that "The plane has been sold to Venezuelan airlines for more than a year and its crew is not entirely Iranian."

Iran’s aviation chief Mohammad Mohammadi Bakhsh said on Sunday that the Iranian crew on the plane were instructors working as part of an aviation deal between Iran and Venezuela, and that the seized aircraft has not been on Mahan Air’s register. 

Argentine lower-house lawmaker and member of the country's Congressional Intelligence Commission Gerardo Milman, who has raised attention to the case in recent days, presented a complaint to a judge asking to fingerprint the crew and share the information with the Federal Intelligence Agency, saying that "Our information is that this is a plane that has come to conduct intelligence in Argentina." 

Among the Iranians on board, is Gholamreza Ghasemi, who is a member of the IRGC and a former board member of Fars Air Qeshm, the Iranian airline that is accused of transporting weapons for Hezbollah covering up as civilian jets. He is reportedly a relative of current Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, whose assignment by President Ebrahim Raisi triggered condemnation from Argentina given his suspected role in the 1994 AMIA bombing that killed 85 people and injured over 300.

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