German Airport Refuses to Refuel Visiting Iran FM’s Plane, Citing Fear of US Sanctions

Attending a high-profile security conference in the Bavarian city of Munich forced Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, and the German Defense Ministry, to take extreme measures to facilitate his arrival and departure.

Zarif was warned by the private companies that operate Munich Airport that they would refuse to refuel his official jet to make the return trip after the conference was over, citing fear the US would punish them for doing so. They suggested that he either bring a plane that could carry enough fuel for the round trip, or instead fly to Vienna, Austria and then drive the 400+ kilometers to Munich for the conference, since Vienna’s airport is run by a different company.

Option three, it turns out, was for Zarif to petition the German government about the problem, and the solution ended up being that the German Defense Ministry agreed that the German military would be in charge of refueling Zarif’s plane for the sake of departing Munich, as they apparently do not fear US reprisals.

All’s well that ends well, but this once again underscores that the US is acting in such bad faith with respect to obliged sanctions relief for Iran that airports nowhere near the US are afraid to refuel official Iranian planes who are invited for major international events.

Iran has been going through this problem virtually from the start of the P5+1 nuclear deal, with European banks fearing financing perfectly legal business deals between Iran and EU companies because they think the US will take revenge on them for doing business with the Iranians. Though publicly US officials have at times denied pressuring EU banks about this, at other times Treasury officials have bragged about how limited Iran’s access to international commerce remains, despite the supposed sanction relief. This incident just adds to Iran’s grievances about the way the deal is being handled, grievances which are largely shared by the EU parties to the deal, whose companies are losing out on lucrative business ties because of US acrimony.