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Iran blames US sanctions for helicopter crash that killed president

Iran blames US sanctions for helicopter crash that killed president

Posted May. 22, 2024 07:55,   

Updated May. 22, 2024 07:55


The tensions between the U.S. and Iran are intensifying following the recent death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash. "Even the president had no choice but to ride an outdated helicopter due to the prolonged economic sanctions imposed by the U.S.," criticized the Iranian government. In response, the U.S. government countered by saying that Iran was responsible for flying the 56-year-old helicopter in bad weather. While expressing official condolences for President Raisi's sudden death, the U.S. government also issued a statement condemning his human rights abuses.

President Raisi was widely seen as a leading candidate to succeed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his death is likely to trigger rivalries and power struggles over who will lead the Islamic Republic after Khamenei. Possible candidates for the Supreme Leader position include Khamenei's son, Mojtaba Khamenei, and Shia cleric Alireza Arafi. A presidential by-election is scheduled for June 28.

Iranian authorities have not yet announced an official cause of the crash. However, the state-run IRNA news agency blamed a technical failure of the U.S.-made Bell-212 helicopter where Raisi was traveling. This aging aircraft, first flown in 1968 and introduced to Iran in 1976, has been involved in at least 430 accidents since 1972.

Iran has been under economic sanctions by the United States and other Western powers for decades due to its killing of civilians in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the detention of Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and suspected nuclear programs.

Former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that U.S. sanctions have led to the martyrdom of the president and his family, which will be listed on the blacklist of U.S. crimes against the Iranian people. He alluded to longstanding sanctions that have made it difficult for Iran to procure adequate aviation parts, with most parts reportedly obtained on the black market.

President Raisi's funeral will span over two days and three nights. It will begin in Tabriz, near the crash site, on Tuesday, continue in the Shiite holy city of Qom, and conclude in the capital, Tehran, where he will be laid to rest in his hometown of Mashhad on Thursday.

Jeong-Soo Hong hong@donga.com