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Iran stops refueling 'Western planes' in tit-for-tat move

13 april 2011, 16:42
0
RIA Novosti©
RIA Novosti©
Iran has stopped refuelling "western passenger planes" since Europe-bound Iranian commercial planes were refused fuelling there, the first vice-president was quoted as saying in the governmental Iran newspaper on Wednesday, AFP reports.

"Recently fuel supply for Iranian passenger planes flying to Europe was stopped," Mohammed Reza Rahimi said.

"Iran decided immediately to strike back and banned supply of fuel to Western passenger planes landing in Iran," Rahimi added without specifying when the decision by the Islamic republic was implemented and which companies were targetted.

The decision by European oil companies was apparently taken in support of Western sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, even though sanctions adopted by the European Union do not include such measures.

Unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States, however, target gasoline and jet fuel supplies to Iran.

A number of European oil companies like BP and Shell stopped refuelling Iranian planes six months ago and in March France's Total and Austria's OMV followed suit.

European diplomats and western oil experts in Tehran, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said US pressure was behind the action taken by the major oil companies.

Iranian commercial planes on flights to Europe continue to operate by making a stopover in some European airports, notably Prague and Budapest, where Russian companies still refuel them.

"Now the question is if they (the West) have problems with the Iranian government why do they deprive the people of their rights?" Rahimi said. "The Iranian nation does not fear sanctions and can easily overcome it."

Late October Iran said that it is taking legal action in The Hague against global oil majors who are refusing to refuel its Europe-bound flights under US pressure.

"The companies, who have been forced under American pressure to refuse fuel to Iranian airplanes," Farhad Parvaresh, chief executive of state carrier Iran Air said in October.

In December 2010, Iran filed a grievance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) over several EU countries' refusal to refuel its airliners, stressing it was illegal and it could threaten the security of passengers.

But a spokesman for ICAO said that, "This is an issue that must be resolved by the ICAO member states themselves."

Western sanctions adopted in July 2010 toughen existing United Nations sanctions.

Western oil companies in line with sanctions against the Islamic republic over its contentious nuclear drive have withdrawn from their projects in Iran.

The Islamic republic is under four sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

Their main objection is to Iran's uranium enrichment programme, which can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or the fissile material for an atomic warhead.

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