WASHINGTON, May 22 (UPI) -- The United States froze the assets of an Iraqi airline and a Syrian businessman over the sale of planes to Iran's Mahan Air, a company already under U.S. sanction.
The case has caused concern in that it increases perceptions that new U.S. sanctions will be a sticking point in approving a proposed nuclear deal between the United States and Iran in June. The U.S. Treasury Department said Thursday that Mahan Air, already sanctioned three times since 2011 for its involvement with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah and the Syrian government, took delivery of nine Airbus aircraft. The planes, Israeli officials warned the White House in urging the United States to block the delivery, could be used by Iran for military purposes.
The Iraq-based Al-Naser Airlines, Syrian businessman Issam Shammout and his Sky Blue Bird Aviation company, based in the United Arab Emirates, were sanctioned by the Treasury Department for serving as fronts to obtain the aircraft for Mahan Air. It was noted the sellers of the aircraft were not aware the ultimate purchaser of the planes was in Iran.