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August 1st, 2006
Flying Down to Kabul
Map: Airspace Politics: Iran

Source: CIA World Factbook 2006

Airspace: 636,296 square miles

Recent Airspace Conflicts

The United States cut diplomatic ties with Iran after activists seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 following the Islamic Revolution, which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah.

In September 1996 the Federal Aviation Authority of the United States issued an emergency order barring flights by U.S. airlines over Iran due to concerns that the Iranian military had installed anti-aircraft missiles on the Iran-Turkey border.

During the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan that began in October 2001, Iran’s defense minister warned the U.S. that it would confront any U.S. planes that penetrated Iranian airspace during possible strikes on Afghanistan.

In 2002 Iran denied use of its airspace to the United States to attack Iraq, and Iranian officials stated that Iranian armed forces would defend the country’s territory. Iran intensified diplomatic efforts to avert a U.S. military attack on Iraq, but Iran declined to engage in direct confrontation with American forces.

In 2003 Iran’s defense minister said its forces would “confront” any U.S. aircraft that used Iranian airspace during possible strikes on neighboring Iraq.

Iran’s northern neighbor Azerbaijan accused Iran of violating its airspace by sending surveillance aircraft for aerial reconnaissance. The planes turned back after receiving a warning signal from the Azeri Air Force. The Iranian military has been accused of using manned and unmanned jets on many occasions in the past to spy on its neighbors. Tensions between the Iran and Azerbaijan rose sharply after Iranian fighter jets violated Azeri airspace in 2001.

In 2005, Iran’s intelligence chief accused the United States of flying spy drones over its nuclear sites and threatened to shoot down the unmanned surveillance crafts. The intelligence chief’s comments followed an earlier report in THE WASHINGTON POST that quoted unnamed U.S. officials who said the drones had been flying over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs.

Airspace Regulatory Body

Iranian Civil Aviation Organization: An independent arm of Iran’s Ministry of Road and Transportation, the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization regulates flights in Iranian airspace.

Membership in International Aviation Organizations

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO): The ICAO works to establish international standards regarding technical aspects of aviation. After the ICAO adopts a standard, it is put into effect by each ICAO member nation in its own territories.

Sources: Civil Aviation Organization: Islamic Republic of Iran, BBC NEWS, ASSOCIATED PRESS, Federal Aviation Administration, International Civil Aviation Organization

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