South African gov’t criticizes Shell for not refueling Iran speaker’s jet

Iranian Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani and S.A. President Jacob Zuma

South Africa criticized Royal Dutch Shell’s local unit on Tuesday for not refueling a jet carrying the visiting speaker of Iran’s parliament, saying the action was an “embarrassment” to the government.

Ali Larijani met with South African President Jacob Zuma and South Africa’s parliamentary speaker during an official visit to the country from March 4 to 7.

But Larijani was forced to cancel the next leg of a planned African tour because of a 24-hour delay when his plane was not refueled at Cape Town International Airport.

The South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA), which groups suppliers such as Shell, said this was because of “company-specific global policies” its members follow in dealing with Iran, which has had international sanctions imposed on it over its nuclear program.

“In accordance with these company restrictions, the relevant SAPIA members were not able to sell fuel or provide refueling services to Dr Larijani’s aircraft prior to its departure from Cape Town on 7 March 2014,” SAPIA said in a statement.

The South African government said it did not think sanctions applied in this situation…

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Why was Larijani in South Africa? According to PressTV:

Iran and South Africa are working on bolstering their already strong ties, with the country’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani in Africa for a 5-day visit.

In his meetings with President Jacob Zuma and the South African speaker of parliament, the expansion of ties in industry, minerals and agriculture was discussed. But a key question remained around whether South Africa would resume imports of Iranian oil, now that US-led sanctions are being relaxed.

Larijani emphasized that SA and Iran are friendly nations and said that the history of these ties goes back to the days of the 1979 Iranian revolution…