Indonesia is accused of allegedly involved in manipulating aircraft purchases from Europe, with the intention of supplying them to Iran. The information was first disclosed by Iranian journalist Babak Taghvaee through his Twitter account, @BabakTaghvaee1.
Taghvaee’s investigation reportedly uncovered the involvement of Indonesian and Malian authorities in aiding Iran’s effort to evade US sanctions, with two Airbus A340-212 aircraft being flown to Iran on May 23.
“Indonesian and Malian authorities were involved in assisting Iran in circumventing US sanctions and delivering the aircraft to Iran,” Taghavee said on Thursday, June 1, 2023.
Registration changes and parking at Kertajati Airport
It is said from Taghavee’s investigation that these aircraft were previously part of the French Armée de l’Air fleet but were sold to Austrian Airlines in 2006.
After operating in Austria under the prefix of OE-LAG and OE-LAH, the aircraft were subsequently sold to French aviation company LMO Aero, where they were re-registered under the prefix F-RAJA and F-RAJB.
In 2022, LMO Aero was reportedly acquired by a Malian company with alleged links to Iran Mahan Air. The registrations prefix was then changed to TZ-DTA and TZ-DTC, and the aircraft were eventually parked at Kertajati Airport in West Java.
The Kertajati Airport Authority claimed that the plane departed to Mali. However subsequent revelations indicated that instead of heading to Mali, the plane actually flew to Chabahar Airport located in Southern Iran. Meanwhile, the other plane remained at the 10th Tactical Airbase of the IRIAF (Iranian Air Force).
However, Indonesian aviation analyst Gatot Rahardjo stated that the issue regarding the Iran aircraft purchase that parked at Kertajati Airport still remains unclear.
Gatot said that the process of aircraft purchase is not explicitly regulated in international aviation rules, which can involve various mechanisms such as business-to-business, government-to-government, government-to-business, etc.
Meanwhile, from the aviation regulations aspect, Gatot assessed that Indonesia has not committed any violations. Gatot stated that lessees are obligated to pay fees for parking at Indonesian airports.
US views Mahan Air as a threat
Since 2018, the US has imposed various sanctions, including a trade embargo, due to Iran’s perceived violations of nuclear weapons agreements. These sanctions target a wide range of entities, totaling more than 700 individuals, institutions, and assets such as ships and aircraft. Among those affected are major banks, exporters, airlines, and shipping companies.
Moreover, the US has also issued warnings of potentially extending the embargo to nations that engage in collaboration with Iran.
In May 2020, then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued warnings to countries cooperating with Mahan Air. Pompeo specifically targeted Chinese Shanghai Saint Logistic Limited, for its collaborations with Mahan Air. The US views Mahan Air as a threat, alleging its involvement in providing arms to extremist groups across the globe.