The United States sanctioned a Chinese company on Tuesday for allegedly acting as a general sales agent for or on behalf of Iranian airline Mahan Air, announced the U.S. State and Treasury Departments.
Since 2018, this is the seventh designation of a general sales agent to Mahan Air, which was sanctioned by the United States in 2011 for allegedly providing support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force.
“The People’s Republic of China is one of the rapidly dwindling number of countries that welcomes Mahan Air, which ferries weapons and terrorists around the world for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Such cooperation has consequences,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement.
“The Iranian regime is using Mahan Air to support an illegitimate and corrupt regime in Venezuela, just as it has done for the regime in Syria and for terrorist proxy groups throughout the Middle East,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “We will not hesitate to target those entities that continue to maintain commercial relationships with Mahan Air.”
Both State and Treasury alleged that Mahan Air has been operating charter flights to Venezuela for Iranian technicians and technical equipment, using materials sourced from China.
Amid economic collapse, Venezuela has been relying on Iran to prop up its oil industry by giving the Islamic Republic tons of gold bars, thereby depleting the South American country’s gold vaults, reported Bloomberg earlier this month, citing sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
“More recently, the Iranian regime turned to Mahan Air to facilitate shipments to Venezuela to support the illegitimate former Maduro regime and its desperate attempts to boost energy production, which had fallen due to its own gross mismanagement,” said Pompeo.
“It is equally troubling that Mahan Air appears to be carrying gold from Venezuela’s vaults back to Iran, depriving the Venezuelan people of resources needed to rebuild their economy. As always, authoritarian regimes are more interested in their own survival than the needs of their people.”