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Iran to sue European refusal to refuel planes: airline

Iran appoints lawyers to pursue the suing process

Iran is taking legal action in The Hague against global oil majors who are refusing to refuel its Europe-bound flights under U.S. pressure, a top aviation official said on Saturday.

"Iran, through appropriate channels, is taking legal measures and the issue has been raised in The Hague tribunal and lawyers have been appointed to pursue the issue," Farhad Parvaresh, chief executive of state carrier Iran Air, was quoted as saying on official news agency IRNA.

He did not specify before which court in the Netherlands the suit was being lodged.

Iran warned on October 19 that it would "confront" Western companies for refusing to refuel its planes in Europe, which it deemed illegal under international law.

Parvaresh said the United States was forcing the companies to refuse fuel to the aircraft.

"The companies, who have been forced under American pressure to refuse fuel to Iranian airplanes, are the real losers as they are incurring losses and asking for these restrictions to be lifted," he said.

Parvaresh and other Iranian officials have not specified which companies were refusing to refuel Iran Air flights and on which European routes.

European authorities and airports have been silent about the reported measures which are separate to unilateral action the EU imposed soon after the U.N. Security Council adopted a fourth set of sanctions against Tehran on June 9.

Unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States, however, target gasoline and jet fuel supplies to Iran.

A European diplomat said it was U.S. pressure was behind the action taken by the major oil companies.

"The U.S. is using pressure, threats and confusion. We are (operating) outside of any legal framework," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Passengers and travel agents say the fuel refusals also appear to be implemented on ad hoc basis and at some European airports, adding that Iranian flights were making stopovers at Vienna where Austrian oil company OMV seemed to be the only one resisting U.S. pressure.

Parvaresh said Iran Air's flights to Europe continued to operate by making a stopover.

"None of the flights have been cancelled as we have chosen a mid-point on route (to Europe) for refueling and flights will continue" to Europe, he said.

Passengers and other industry sources have said Iranian flights were banned from refueling at London, Amsterdam, Stockholm and several German airports.

Industry sources and passengers told AFP that some flights of British Midland airline had been refused refueling at Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport in the past two weeks.

The companies, who have been forced under American pressure to refuse fuel to Iranian airplanes, are the real losers as they are incurring losses and asking for these restrictions to be lifted

Farhad Parvaresh, chief executive of state carrier Iran Air

Iran acknowledges sanctions driving up costs

Iranian officials are acknowledging that international sanctions imposed on the country over its nuclear program have dramatically increased the cost of living, but they say the penalties will ultimately prove futile.

Iran is under four sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions as well as other penalties by the United States and the European Union because of its refusal to halt a key aspect of its nuclear program.

Commerce Minister Mahdi Ghazanfari said Saturday that if the sanctions were really having an impact, then the U.N. would not have had to impose four sets of penalties.

But Chamber of Commerce President Mohammad Nahavandian did say the sanctions have driven up the cost of imports by 30 percent.