Monday, July 5, 2010
Refusing to sell fuel would be step toward war
Has it become the official position of the United States that war with Iran is considered the best way to move beyond the current stalemate over Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons development? That's how it seemed Monday after Iran complained that three U.S. allies had refused to permit Iranian planes to refuel at airports in their countries. If it's true, it's an extremely hostile and provocative act -- especially since it comes just days after the United States and European Union imposed a wide-ranging array of sanctions against Iranian business and government interests. "Since last week, our planes have been refused fuel at airports in Britain, Germany and UAE because of the sanctions imposed by America," the secretary of the Iranian Airlines Union, Mehdi Aliyari, told Iran's ISNA news agency, according to the Reuters international news service. "Refusing to provide fuel to Iranian passenger planes by these countries is a violation of international conventions." The governments in Britain, Germany and the United Arab Emirates immediately denied the allegation and said they were complying with worldwide agreements and fulfilling contracts with Iranian airlines. But will they when current contracts expire, and how much pressure will Iran endure before lashing out against its neighbors or against Israel? The new sanctions are aimed at restricting Iran's ability to import refined oil products, like gasoline, that it does not produce on its own, even though it is the world's fifth-largest exporter of petroleum. An Iranian lawmaker, Hesmatollah Falahatpisheh, told ISNA that his country would retaliate against any country refusing to service its airplanes, Reuters said. "Iran will do the same to ships and planes of those countries that cause problems for us," he said. But more countries and companies are agreeing to comply with the new sanctions regime. This summer, United Arab Emirates froze more than 40 accounts of Iranian individuals and companies suspected of helping Iran evade current U.N. sanctions, which are not as strict. Western countries think Iran is trying to use its civilian nuclear power program to advance its development of nuclear weapons, but Iran denies the allegation.