Blumenthal Urges Treasury Secretary to Sanction Companies Doing Business with Iranian Airline

Mahan Air Helps Funnel Weapons to Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Syria

(Washington, D.C.) US Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are urging Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to sanction all entities partnering with the private Iranian airline, Mahan Air. The US Department of the Treasury has designated Mahan Air for its support for terrorism and funneling of weapons to Hezbollah and to the Assad regime in Syria, yet the airline continues to operate with a network of partners throughout Europe.

“As Mahan Air continues to operate and even expand its international business network, it is clear that tough words from the administration are not enough.  It is time to impose sanctions now on companies aiding Mahan Air,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to immediately identify to us all known entities engaged in commercial transactions with Mahan Air and take action now to sanction those companies, including freezing all assets of those entities found under U.S. jurisdiction.”

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Secretary Lew,

We write to express our deep concern regarding Mahan Air, a private Iranian airline designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for its support for terrorism and funneling of weapons to Hezbollah and to the Assad regime in Syria.  As Mahan Air continues to operate and even expand its international business network, it is clear that tough words from the administration are not enough.  It is time to impose sanctions now on companies aiding Mahan Air.

In his August 2015 testimony, Acting Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin reaffirmed that “our sanctions list with respect to Iran will remain very extensive. We are not relieving sanctions against Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC, or the Quds force or any of their subsidiaries or senior officials.”  In a September 2015 speech, Szubin explicitly singled out Mahan Air by stating, “We will continue to expose Mahan’s front companies, and to remind governments and private industry in the 24 cities where Mahan continues to fly that they risk exposure to U.S. sanctions.”

Despite these commitments, Mahan Air continues to fly into such European countries as Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as our Persian Gulf Arab allies.  Mahan Air has recently introduced new flights to Russia, and intends to further expand its routes in Europe.  Mahan Air often flies its planes to commercial airports within hours of their return from arms delivery to Damascus or to equip Iran’s terror-proxy Hezbollah with weapons aimed directly at Israel. It regularly delivers IRGC personnel to and from Iran and Syria, as well as provides covert flights for IRGC senior officers into and out of Iraq to work with sectarian militias.

Mahan Air relies on a host of local partners who provide financial and other services in order for it to maintain a robust international flight network.  Those working with Mahan Air should understand that they will be sanctioned by the United States for supporting terrorism.  We urge you to immediately identify to us all known entities engaged in commercial transactions with Mahan Air and take action now to sanction those companies, including freezing all assets of those entities found under U.S. jurisdiction.

We are also aware that Tehran is in the process of purchasing a large number of commercial airliners.  We ask you to monitor and ensure that, even under the suspension of enforcement of nuclear-related sanctions, no U.S. aircraft equipment is ever diverted to Mahan Air. Strong and swift sanctions enforcement is vital to hold Iran to account for its ongoing support of terrorism, ballistic missile development, and human rights violations.  

Thank you for your service to our country.

###