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Iran responsible for flying 45-year-old helicopter, says US after Raisi’s death

State Dept cites it was ‘unable’ to provide Iran assistance after helicopter crash
United States Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller responds to a query at the press briefing on May 20, 2024. Screengrab via YouTube
United States Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller responds to a query at the press briefing on May 20, 2024. Screengrab via YouTube

The United States administration has blamed the Iranian government for flying a more than 40 years old helicopter that crashed on Sunday, killing Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian and six other passengers and crew.

“So, first of all, we are not going to apologise for our sanctions regime at all. The Iranian Government has used its aircraft to transport equipment to support terrorism,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in response to a query at the weekly press briefing on Monday.

He was asked whether the US government has any reactions and comments on the former Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who claimed that the US was one of the main responsible for the Iranian president’s helicopter crash due to the sanctions

In response, Miller said: “So, we will continue to fully enforce our sanctions regime, including our sanctions regimes on aircraft for use by the Iranian Government. Ultimately, it’s the Iranian Government that is responsible for the decision to fly a 45-year-old helicopter in what was described as poor weather conditions, not any other actor.”

Raisi, a hardliner long seen as a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was killed in a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near the Azerbaijan border, officials and state media said earlier today.

The charred wreckage of the helicopter which crashed on Sunday carrying Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and six other passengers and crew was found early on Monday after an overnight search in blizzard conditions.

When asked about the US’ decision to a moment of silence for President Raisi at the UN Security Council, he said that the administration regretted any loss of life.

“We don’t want to see anyone die in a helicopter crash. But that doesn’t change the reality of his record both as a judge and as the president of Iran and the fact that he has blood on his hands,” he said and added that the US government would continue to support the people of Iran and confront the Iranian regime’s support for “terrorism and its proliferation of dangerous weapons”

Miller admitted that the Iranian government had asked for assistance, but the US said that it would do in response to any request by a foreign government in this sort of situation. “And ultimately, we were not able to provide that assistance.”

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He did not get into the details of it.

“We said that we would be willing to assist. It’s something that we would do with respect to any government in this situation. Ultimately, largely for logistical reasons, we weren’t able to provide that assistance.”

When asked about the US offering condolence and describing Raisi as a “bad guy”, he said that the condolences were on behalf of the US government.

Moreover, he did not speak about the indirect talks with the Iranian government in Oman. “So, I’m not going to speak to any talks, real or imagined, but I will say that the actions – but I would not draw any such conclusions.”

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Iran President helicopter crash