The regulatory notice from the department posted online
provided further insight into the operations of Mahan Air, a
commercial airline that the United States has accused of
providing funds and transport for Iran's elite forces and flying
weapons to Syria.
The notice charged that the middlemen "engaged in the
development and operation of an illicit aviation procurement
network designed to evade the U.S. government's sanctions
A majority of the companies and people are based in Turkey, and
others are in Armenia, Greece, Iran, Thailand and the United
Arab Emirates. They included Greece's Aeolian Airlines and
Armenia's Vertir Airlines, both small charter firms.
The Commerce Department added the firms to its "Entity List,"
which largely prohibits them from buying restricted items from
the United States, such as aircraft engines or spare parts.
Under a longstanding U.S. trade embargo, U.S. companies are not
allowed to sell goods to Iran without special permission from
Mahan is one of only four Iranian airlines that has passed
international safety audits, despite being blocked from legally
buying U.S. spare parts.
The United States has strict restrictions on exports to Iran in
part due to concerns the goods could also be used for military
purposes or to support Tehran's nuclear program. The West
suspects Iran's nuclear activities are aimed at producing
nuclear bombs, a charge Tehran denies.
Commerce first blacklisted Mahan Air in 2008, after it found the
company imported three Boeing Co 747 jumbo jets into Iran
without U.S. authorization. Britain's Balli Group Plc later paid
$2 million in criminal fines and $15 million in civil fines tied
to the same charges.
Mahan Air later continued to violate U.S. export laws, trying to
find ways to obtain aircraft, engines and computer motherboards
from the United States, according to previous Commerce notices.
The Treasury Department has also accused Mahan Air of ferrying
troops, equipment and weapons to support the government of
President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil war.
Under an interim deal reached between six world powers and Iran
last month to ease a decade-long standoff over Tehran's nuclear
program, Iran will be allowed limited purchases of aircraft
parts and repairs, meant to help restore old aircraft that have
faced a raft of safety issues.
(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; editing by David Brunnstrom)
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