Friday 24 July 2009

Iran air crashes - a long arm

Another Iranian passenger aircraft has crashed – this time at Mashhad airport, where it skidded off the runway and burst into flames, killing 17 passengers. It comes just ten days after another Iranian flight came down in the north of the country, killing all 168 people on board.

The aircraft involved in today’s crash is reported to be a Russian-built Ilyushin, while the one that came to disaster last week was a Russian Tupolev. The causes of the two accidents are not yet known, but Iran has a poor air safety record, partly because of the trade sanctions imposed by the US which have left the country reliant on ageing fleets, and often unable to buy spare parts.

Bad blood between Iran and the USA and UK goes back a long way. In 1951, the highly popular Dr Mohammed Mossadegh was elected prime minister, but when he nationalised the country’s oil reserves, the US and the UK engineered his removal, and the installation of the Shah’s despotic regime.

After the Shah was deposed in the Iranian revolution of 1979, a group of radical students took 52 people hostage at the American embassy claiming that it was a “nest of spies” and the US was up to its old tricks again, plotting to overthrow the new regime. In response America imposed sanctions, and they have remained in place with varying degrees of severity ever since.

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