21:38 GMT +322 September 2018
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    New US Sanctions Intend to Down Iran’s ‘Air Force One’

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    One of the companies included in new US sanctions against Iran is Dena Airways, a small-fry operation that owns a single jet.

    The US Treasury Department has announced a set of new sanctions against Iran that target several Iranian airlines, accusing them of providing services to "terrorists" and delivering proxy forces to Syria and Lebanon.

    In a statement made Thursday, the US Treasury said the companies are being designated for sanctions based on a 2001 presidential executive order designed "to impede terrorist funding." 

    Dena Airways is among them.

    The fleet of Dena Airways consists of a single plane: an Airbus A340.

    Dena's plane is used by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for international travel. Basically, this is the Iranian "Air Force One."

    The airline was created after the US sanctioned another Tehran carrier, Meraj Air, in November 2017.

    With the new sanctions, Dena Airways might not be able to operate its A340, "as ground handling companies worldwide may refuse to refuel/service the aircraft," according to Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, founder of the website Bourse Bazaar.

    The Iranian government has not yet reacted to this development. However, Trita Parsi, executive director of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), wrote on social media: "So what's Trump's aim? Humiliate Iran's moderates and strengthen its hardliners."

    "Weakening the moderates makes it easier to start war," he added.

    ​The new sanctions add a total of 31 aircraft to the banned list, joining four Iranian airlines already under sanction: Mahan Air, Caspian Air, Meraj Air and Pouya Air.

    The sanctions also include two Iranian citizens linked to Dena Airways. Turkish businesswoman Gulnihal Yegane and three aviation-related companies associated with her have also been sanctioned for providing assistance to Mahan Air.

    According to US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, they are now "global terrorists," Al Jazeera reports.ё

    According to Mnuchin, the airlines and sanctioned individuals "enable the Iranian regime to transport weapons, fighters and money to its proxies," by which he means Hezbollah, and "prop up" Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

    Of those four airlines, the US singled out Mahan Air, saying it transported "operatives" of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, as well as weapons and equipment, to Syria.

    On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran will be "battling to keep its economy alive" after the latest sanctions. He demanded that Iran halt all uranium enrichment, stop its ballistic missile program and allow nuclear inspectors access to the entirety of the country, or else face the "strongest sanctions in history."

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    Tags:
    airlines, sanctions, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Dena Airways, Mike Pompeo, Steven Mnuchin, Trita Parsi, Hassan Rouhani, United States, Iran
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