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1 Oct, 2007

Iran Challenges ICAO Claims On Safety

Iran has challenged the International Civil Aviation Organisation to enforce the letter of its legally binding Chicago Convention and deliver on its claimed stress on aviation safety by pressuring the United States to lift the sanctions on supply of spare parts and equipment for Iran’s civil aviation industry.

For the second year running, Iran called on the ICAO General Assembly to “act appropriately” to help rescind those aspects of the US sanctions that apply to civil aviation. It strongly implies that aviation safety of secondary importance to ICAO if weighed against serving the interests of US foreign policy.

In a working paper presented to the 36 th ICAO General Assembly which concluded in Montreal last week, Iran said that both it and the United States are signatories of the Chicago Convention.

“The sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, to the extent they bar the acquisition of parts and support essential for aviation safety, does not conform with both the letter and spirit of the (ICAO) Chicago Convention to which the United States is not only a member, but also is one of its principal architects.”

It added, “Acts of Member States, which are inconsistent with the provisions and goals of the Convention, must not be tolerated or excused. The Iran Sanctions Regulations of the United States, to the extent they adversely affect safety in civil aviation, must be rescinded and the 36th Assembly should act appropriately to affect such rescission (sic).”

“Whatever political differences exist between States that are parties to the Chicago Convention, civil aviation cannot, consistent with their Treaty obligations, be used by member States as an instrument for foreign policy.

“The sanctions, to the extent that they endanger the safety of civil aviation in Iran and in other States that Iranian airlines serve, undermine the mandate that the Member States have delegated to ICAO to ensure the safety of civil aviation worldwide.”

The working paper notes that a similar effort was made at last year’s Assembly but to date, “no considerable developments made through the good offices of the President of the Council in spite of the attempts that have been made.”

Under the sanctions, manufacturers or other United States firms cannot sell and export aircraft, engines and spare parts, CNS and security equipment, etc., to Iranian air carriers or Iranian companies or government agencies, whether the equipment is new or used.

Nor can firms in Europe, the Middle East and other countries worldwide re-sell (re-export) most United States-origin equipment to Iranian air carriers, even if they owned the equipment for years. Firms in the United States cannot sell parts to firms in Europe if they know that those parts will be resold to Iranian air carriers.

Firms (including airlines in Europe), which provide maintenance for Iranian air carriers cannot provide such maintenance if it involves the installation or replacement of United States parts.

The working paper notes that ICAO conducted its own independent investigation into Iran’s claim, and issued a report on 9 May 2005, stating that, “in fact, the United States sanctions had endangered the safety of civil aviation in Iran, and it is contrary to the provisions, aims and objectives of the Chicago Convention.”

“The findings of ICAO should be upsetting to anyone, who is committed to the safety of civil aviation and the safety of air transport,” according to the Iranians. “The instance where safety has been put at risk because of the sanctions is well documented by the ICAO report.”

The Iranians noted one of the ICAO report’s clear recommendations that “the United States should recommit to the Chicago Convention and advise ICAO through their Representative in Montréal ICAO Headquarters that they will uphold the terms and conditions of the Convention”.

The working paper notes that under the terms of the Chicago Convention, “ICAO and its Member States are contractually bound to the promotion, advancement and achievement of the highest standards of aviation safety possible.” Hence, it adds, “Acts of Member States, which are inconsistent with the provisions and goals of the Convention, must not be tolerated or excused.”

At the same time, the working paper refers to the terminology of the US’ Iranian sanctions regulations which clearly declare that “these sanctions were (and continue to be) imposed by United States for foreign policy reasons.”

It also notes that the “Recommendations of ICAO, while positive and welcome, leave civil aviation safety to the discretion and the whim of the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) of the United States and their misconstruction of the sanctions’ regulations.”

Says the working paper, “The 36th Assembly is expected to take the lead to bring international public pressure on the United States, as a Member State to ICAO, to lift the sanctions as they are applied to aircraft equipment, spare parts, CNS equipment and technical supports.

“Aviation safety, as it affects human life and human rights, stands above political differences, which is as it should be, and is the bedrock principle of the Chicago Convention carved into Articles 4 and 44.”

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