• 11 January 2011
  • Posted By Todd Ruffner
  • Congress, Events in Iran, Sanctions

Humanitarian Tragedy in Iran Yet Another Wakeup Call


This past weekend an Iranian Boeing 727 crashed in northwestern Iran while attempting an emergency landing, taking at least 77 lives.

Headlines regarding fatal plane crashes in Iran have become all too common in recent years, and the increasing number of innocent people killed in these incidents draws attention to the worst effects of US sanctions against Iran.

Thanks in large part to the US embargo on Iran, Iran is unable to maintain their aging commercial airliners, most of which have been operating since before the Islamic Revolution in 1979.  Since then, Iran has relied on spare parts garnered from international smuggling, the cannibalization of their own aircraft, and risky reverse engineering to piece together functional planes.

The White House has the authority to waive the embargo on civilian aircraft parts on humanitarian grounds on a case-by-case basis, though it almost never does so. (The last such instance was a Sept. 2006 decision to allow the export of several Airbus engine spare parts by the Bush administration.) This contradicts the principles of the Chicago Convention, to which both the United States and Iran are signatories, which requires that states “meet the needs of the peoples of the world for safe, regular, efficient and economical air transport”.

However, even the possibility of complying with the Chicago Convention and allowing the export of civilian aircraft parts to ensure safety of flight is too much for some Iran hawks in Congress to countenance.  As NIAC first reported, legislation introduced by Rep. Sherman (D-CA) last Congress would eliminate the President’s authority to license civilian aircraft parts. Sherman has previously expressed his desire to make US sanctions “hurt the Iranian people,” so his disregard for the consequences of this measure is clear, but he apparently does not realize that cutting off all accessibility to aircraft parts also endangers the lives the thousands of his Iranian-American constituents that visit Iran every year.

Rep. Sherman is now looking to reintroduce his legislation, though he’s looking for a Republican to act as the lead sponsor to improve the bill’s chances of being passed in the hyper-partisan House of Representatives.  Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced a companion to Sherman’s bill in the Senate but, perhaps in response to the opposition by NIAC and Iranian-American community, he had the good sense to strip the provisions that would put all passengers of Iranian civilian aircraft at even greater risk.

Before he reintroduces his bill, let’s hope that Congressman Sherman takes the opportunity to reconsider whether putting civilian aircraft passengers in Iran in even further danger is a good idea.

Posted By Todd Ruffner

    3 Responses to “Humanitarian Tragedy in Iran Yet Another Wakeup Call”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Just amazing, isn’t it Todd?

    This particular accident involving a Boeing 727-200 was probably due to pilot error. (It was the first fatal accident for Iran Air since 1980, not counting the USN shootdown of IR655).

    But the Iranian people shouldn’t be denied access to newer aircraft or factory support for all the aircraft currently in their possession.

    It isn’t as if they invaded another country on the basis of trumped up reasons, caused hundreds of thousand of casualties and created conditions where millions of people were cast out as refugees.

    What they’re guilty of is non-acceptance of US/Israeli hegemony in the region. They are, independent. And for that reason, the civil airlines servicing the Iranian people are denied access to current types of Western aircraft and spare parts.

    It’s grossly unfair, Todd.

  2. isfahani says:

    Duh-uh – maybe they shouldn’t try to fly planes in bad weather. But then again, I’m sure this is all the fault of the Zionists, British and Americans.

  3. Sam says:

    I also blame us the Iranian Americans in this country, almost 2 million in number but we keep quiet. If this sanction was placed on Israel, you could see thousands of letters and mass protests. But we Iranians only think about ourselves, always doubt each other’s motives and lob baseless accusations on each other. When are we going to wake up and have a voice in this country?

    Also NIAC as the voice of limited caring Iranian Americans should write a letter to President Obama and ask him to remove this inhumane and cruel sanction.

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