Countries deny they’ve stopped refueling Iranian planes

Iran sets conditions for restarting talks; China balks at US sanctions

By JONNY PAUL
July 7, 2010 03:27
3 minute read.

The British and German governments said on Tuesday that they are aware of the allegation that aviation fuel was not provided to Iranian planes but have denied refusing to refuel passenger planes from Iran.

“At present, Her Majesty’s Government is not aware of any occasion when fuel has been refused in the UK,” a government spokesman said.

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A German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post that “refueling does not fall under UN sanctions” for Iranian passenger planes.

A spokesman for Frankfurt International Airport told the Post that “freight and passenger” planes departed yesterday for Mashad and passenger planes were slated to depart for Teheran Tuesday and Wednesday.

The German Transportation Ministry reiterated the position of the Foreign Ministry that UN and EU sanctions do not call for an embargo against refueling Iranian commercial planes.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that British oil giant BP refused to refuel Iranian airliners after the US Congress passed a new round of tightened sanctions against Iran last week. The Iranian statecontrolled ISNA news organization issued conflicting reports on the delivery of fuel.

According to one ISNA article, the secretary of the Iranian Airlines Union said Germany, the United Kingdom and and the UAE had refused to provide aviation fuel to Iran Air and Mahan Airlines. However, a second ISNA dispatch reported that Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramian Mehmanparast termed the reports “false,” calling them part of an effort to create a “psychological climate against Iran.”

Iran said in a letter to the European Union that it’s ready for talks on the country’s nuclear program but that the EU must first guarantee there would be no threats against Teheran, state TV reported on Tuesday.

The TV station said the letter was sent by Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, to EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, detailing Teheran’s conditions for the talks.

It followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s announcement a week ago in which he said Teheran would not hold such talks until late August, to “punish” the West for the latest UN sanctions imposed on Iran. The EU and the US have also imposed their own additional and tougher sanctions against Iran to curtail its nuclear program.

In his speech, Ahmadinejad accused world powers of approving the latest sanctions to give them the upper hand in talks on the issue.

He also set three conditions for an eventual resumption of talks, saying countries who want to participate should make clear whether they oppose Israel’s purported atomic arsenal, whether they support the Nonproliferation Treaty and whether they want to be friends or enemies with Iran.

However, he said, participation in the talks was not contingent on the answers.

Meanwhile, China balked Tuesday at the increased US sanctions against Iran last week over its nuclear program, criticizing the US for unilaterally expanding on the UN sanctions. Beijing said Tuesday that the United States and other countries should not expand on the latest UN sanctions.

China did not exercise its veto power last month when the UN Security Council approved sanctions that target Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, ballistic missiles and nuclear-related investments.

The US followed that up when President Barack Obama signed a bill Thursday that imposed tough unilateral sanctions against exports of gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran. It also bans US banks from doing business with foreign banks providing services to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

“China supports the UN sanctions. China believes that countries should have correct implementation of the sanctions instead of expanding the sanctions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news conference.

As a permanent member of the Security Council and key Iranian ally, China could have vetoed the sanctions, but after considerable international pressure it agreed to support them.

But China has said its support for sanctions should not block efforts to find a diplomatic solution, and has called for renewed attempts to bring Iran back to the negotiating table.

China’s bilateral trade with Iran reached at least $36.5 billion last year. Iran meets 11 percent of China’s energy needs and Chinese companies have major investments in Iranian energy extraction projects and the construction of roads, bridges and power plants.

AP and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.


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