Trump Admin Sanctions Chinese Firm Aiding Iran's Weapons Smuggling Network

Mahan Air
Getty Images
May 19, 2020

The Trump administration on Tuesday issued new sanctions on a Chinese firm that it says is providing critical services to Iran's Mahan Air, an airline that the United States has designated for terrorism due to its smuggling of weapons and terrorist fighters.

Sanctions will immediately be applied to Shanghai Saint Logistics Limited, a Chinese company that "provides general sales agent services" for Mahan, according to the State Department. The United States first listed Mahan Air as a "specially designated global terrorist" in 2011 due to its role in Tehran's shipment of weapons and soldiers across the Middle East. It was designated again in 2019 under weapons of mass destruction authority for allegedly shipping banned missile and nuclear infrastructure to Iran.

China is one of the few countries still doing business with the airline and it is likely the coronavirus first spread to Iran because of the daily flights between the two countries.

"The People's Republic of China is one of the rapidly dwindling number of countries that welcomes Mahan Air, which ferries weapons and terrorists around the world for the Islamic Republic of Iran," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement announcing the new sanctions. "Such cooperation has consequences."

Mahan also ships goods to the Maduro regime in Venezuela, which the United States views as illegitimate.

"It is equally troubling that Mahan Air appears to be carrying gold from Venezuela's vaults back to Iran, depriving the Venezuelan people of resources needed to rebuild their economy," Pompeo said.