Iran is blaming U.S. sanctions for lack of aviation maintenance parts that led to deadly helicopter crash
05/22/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

Iranian state media is now saying a “technical failure” caused the helicopter crash that killed its president, Ebrahim Raisi, and other high-ranking politicians, and it says that U.S. sanctions targeted at its aviation sector are to blame.

The Bell 212 helicopter that was transporting the officials was at least 40 years old. However, it is important to keep in mind that there was extremely heavy fog in the area where the helicopter went down as well as bad weather; human error could also be to blame.

It’s hard to imagine why, if there were truly concerns about the safety of the aircraft, Iran took a chance by allowing both its president and foreign minister to fly in the same helicopter despite others also being used that day to carry their delegation.

Right now, Iran is busy planning state funerals for the officials who passed away, and several heads of state that are allied with Iran are widely expected to attend, although it is not clear whether Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Tehran to attend the funerals.

Al Jazeera noted that after President Trump pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action nuclear deal in 2018, aviation repair in Iran became more challenging. While the JCPOA was in effect, Iran agreed to stop producing materials that could be used for nuclear weapons in exchange for a relaxation of the sanctions that had been imposed on its aviation sector. This meant they were free to purchase aircraft from foreign manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus and could arrange repairs.

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However, once the U.S. pulled out, Iranian aircraft could no longer be sent abroad to be repaired as the sanctions were reinstated. Instead, Iranian aircraft had to be repaired locally by mechanics who lacked the proper knowledge to carry out such repairs. It also had the effect of raising the prices of plane tickets in Iran given the expenses involved in maintaining and repairing aircraft.

The former foreign minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said that the U.S. was responsible for the helicopter crash by virtue of the sanctions it imposed on Iran’s aviation industry.

He told Iranian state TV: “One of the causes of this heart-breaking incident is the United States, which by sanctioning the sale of the aviation industry to Iran caused the martyrdom of the president and his companions. The U.S.’s crime will be recorded in the minds of the Iranian people and history.”

Middle East expert Sanam Vakil agrees, saying: “Iran has seen a lot of airline incidents, not just helicopter but airplane crashes, and I think this is definitely tied to sanctions.”

However, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin insisted that the U.S. had nothing to do with the accident.

There were nine people in total on board the presidential helicopter, including clerics and bodyguards. The aging aircraft reportedly disintegrated after hitting a mountain in the midst of poor visibility and high fog, something that is in direct conflict with the “hard landing” that state officials and media originally said took place.

Israel denies assassinating Iranian president

Some people have speculated that Israel may have tried to assassinate the Iranian president because they had plenty of reasons to want to see the "Butcher of Tehran" dead. The 63-year-old president played a key role in sentencing thousands of Iranian prisoners to their deaths, and the country has long been known to fund terrorists like the Hamas terrorists who carried out a deadly attack in southern Israel on October 7. Iran had also been continuing its work to enrich uranium to levels approaching weapons grade, launched missile and drone attacks on Israel last month, and gave Russia weapons to use in its war in Ukraine.

However, an Israeli official denied any involvement in the accident, saying: “It wasn't us.”

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