The United States has imposed new sanctions against an airline company, which routinely transports Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
In a statement on Thursday, the US Department of the Treasury said Dena Airways is being designated for sanctions based on a 2001 presidential order designed “to impede terrorist funding”.
Dena Airways handles flights for the government of Iran. In November 2017, a previously US-sanctioned airline, Meraj Air, transferred its “VIP flight operations” to Dena Airways, the US statement said.
According to Trita Parsi, executive director of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Dena Airways operates only one aircraft, which is being used by President Rouhani.
“So what’s Trump’s aim? Humiliate Iran’s moderates and strengthen its hardliners,” Parsi wrote on social media.
According to public records provided by the website AirFleets, Dena Airways operates only one aircraft, a 19-year-old Airbus A340-300.
The new sanctions could prevent the use of the Dena Airways aircraft for official travel “as ground handling companies worldwide may refuse to refuel/service the aircraft”, Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, founder of Bourse Bazaar website, wrote on social media.
He referred to the Dena Airways aircraft as Iran’s own version of Air Force One, which transports the US president.
There was no immediate reaction from the Iranian government on the latest sanctions.
Two Iranians linked to Dena Airways and a Turkish businesswoman named Gulnihal Yegane, are also being sanctioned, as are three aviation-related companies linked to Yegane.