Iran refuses to refuel European, Arab jets
AFP TEHRAN IRAN is refusing to refuel some European and Arab airlines at its main international airport amid simmering tensions over its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil tankers by readying war game missile tests near the entrance to the Gulf.
“Government directives” ordered the ban, Morteza Dehqan, head of Tehran’s Imam Khomeini international airport, told the ISNA news agency.
“In a reciprocal move, we are not giving fuel to the airlines of countries which do not give fuel to our airlines,” he said.
Unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States, however, target gasoline and jet fuel supplies to Iran.
Washington has warned a closure of the strait “will not be tolerated” after Iranian Vice-President Reza Rahimi’s threat this week that “not a drop of oil” will pass through the channel if more Western sanctions are imposed over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Iran has brushed off the warning from the United States, which bases its Fifth Fleet in the Gulf, with Iranian navy chief Admiral Habibollah Sayari saying it would be “really easy” to close the strait.
A spokesman for the Iranian navy, Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi, told state television on Saturday that, “in the next days, we will test-fire all kinds of surface-to-sea, sea-to-sea and surfaceto- air as well as shoulder-launched missiles” in the final stages of the war games.
The navy exercises started on December 24 and are due to end on Monday. Meanwhile top negotiator Saeed Jalili said Iran was ready to rejoin EU-led talks with major powers on assuaging Western concerns over its nuclear programme. Jalili left the door open to resuming long-stalled talks led by European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Western concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme.