Former Iranian Diplomat Attributes U.S. Sanctions To President's Fatal Helicopter Crash

 May 20, 2024

A former Iranian diplomat blames U.S. sanctions for the death of Iran’s president, citing restrictions on buying newer aircraft.

According to the Western Journal, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the former foreign minister, said the sanctions forced the president to use an old Bell 212 helicopter, which contributed to the accident.

Total devastation ensued as President Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter collided with a mountain near the border of Iran and Azerbaijan.

The helicopter, a Bell 212 produced between 1968 and 1998, faced severe weather conditions such as heavy fog and a blizzard, which led to its crash during the flight. President Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, and six others tragically lost their lives in the crash.

Repercussions of Decades-Long U.S. Sanctions on Iranian Aviation

Former Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has vocally criticized the United States' longstanding sanctions against Iran, attributing them as a partial cause of the fatal crash. The sanctions initiated following the 1979 Iranian Revolution significantly restrict Iran's ability to procure modern aircraft and spare parts.

This restriction has compelled Iran to maintain an aging fleet of aircraft like the Bell 212. Reportedly, there are at least 15 of these helicopters still in operation within the country, each averaging 35 years of use.

Impact of Outdated Equipment on Iran's Aviation Safety

Due to the sanctions, the aging fleet often struggles with routine safety checks and maintenance issues due to having to source parts from less official channels. This has raised concerns about the overall safety and reliability of Iran's aviation capabilities.

Former Iranian diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed his grim view on the linkage between U.S. policy and the recent tragedy in an interview with the Associated Press. He stated:

One of the main culprits of yesterday’s tragedy is the United States, which … embargoed the sale of aircraft and aviation parts to Iran and does not allow the people of Iran to enjoy good aviation facilities.

In response to the accident and subsequent allegations, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, Matt Miller, expressed condolences on behalf of the U.S. government, reflecting the sensitive nature of international politics intertwined with human tragedy.

Interestingly, local sources reported that celebrations broke out in some parts of Iran following news of President Raisi's death, highlighting internal conflicts within the country. President Raisi had been considered a likely successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, indicating the complex political dynamics at play.

Zarif Holds U.S. Policies Responsible for Raisi's Death

An official stated on Iranian TV that President Raisi's death in an outdated helicopter will be noted as part of the list of American offenses against Iran.

As the nation mourns the loss of its leader, questions persist about the future direction of Iranian policy and leadership. The incident has intensified debates over U.S. sanctions and reinvigorated discussions about aviation safety in sanctions-bound countries.

The tragic death of President Raisi, his potential political future, and the ongoing challenges posed by U.S. sanctions weaves a complex narrative of geopolitics, safety, and national mourning. Each aspect bears significant consequences not just for Iran's internal dynamics but also for its relations on the global stage.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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