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US sanctions prevent Iranian plane to refuel in Germany, endanger passengers’ lives

An Iran Air Airbus A330 landing at Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport (File photo by NurPhoto)

After an hour of hovering in Hamburg’s sky due to heavy fog, an Iranian passenger plane had to fly 1,000 kilometers south to refuel in Milan, as US sanctions prevent western supply companies to sell fuel to Iran Air, endangering the lives of innocent passengers.

On Monday, an Iran Air Airbus A330 operating Flight IR723 took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport at 04:03 local time and headed for Hamburg, Germany, where heavy fog prevented a safe landing.

The plane entered loiter mode waiting for the fog to clear, but a little over one hour later, it lifted back up to 30,000 feet and took off for Milan, rather than heading towards a different German airport, and eventually landed at Milan Malpensa, Simple Flying reported.

After nearly three hours on the ground at Milan Malpensa, the passenger plane finally made its way back north toward its intended destination.

As a result of sanctions the US began to reimpose on Iran in 2018 – after former US president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the Iran nuclear agreement – many western supply companies, wary of punitive measures, have stopped selling fuel to Iran Air in order to comply with the US bans on Iran and its flag carrier.

Since its unlawful withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the US has pressed other countries to abide by its sanctions, threatening them with sanctions if they did not, in what Trump described as a “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic.

The inhumane sanctions, which overwhelmingly target civilians, have been maintained by the administration of Joe Biden, who had called Trump’s maximum pressure a disastrous policy and promised to repeal it.

The sanctions make any third parties who supply Iranian airlines with maintenance, catering, refueling, and even booking, also liable to prosecution, pressing fuel companies to choose between operating in the US and selling fuel to Iranian airlines.

Iranian passenger planes normally carry enough fuel with them to make their trip to Europe and return to Tehran. But due to the prolonged trip on Monday morning, the A330 no longer had sufficient fuel to make it back home.

Although the US government insists that the sanctions do not target civilians, the ban on sales of spare parts for aircraft and the prohibition of selling fuel to Iranian aircraft are only two examples – among many more – of how Washington endangers people's lives through its unilateral coercive measures.

The harsh sanctions also prohibit the purchase of new aircraft, so Iranian airlines normally operate older passenger planes.

In 2018, it was said that 500 aircraft were needed over the next ten years to replace the country’s aging aircraft.

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