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Police commander: Closing down of new Iran's airport not an appropriate move

Kashan, Isfahan Prov, May 11, IRNA -- Police Commander Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf here Monday evening said closing down of the Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) was not generally an appropriate move for the Islamic Republic system.

photo: ISNA

Talking to students of Kashan University, he said the reason behind closure of the airport was an agreement inked with a Turkish company to operate the airport.

Iran Air had commissioned the operation of the airport to a Turkish-Austrian consortium, a move to which the armed forces objected on the ground that the country's "security" and "dignity" would be jeopardized by such agreements.

According to Qalibaf, the Turkish company is cooperating with another company whose shareholders are Israelis.

The Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) has annulled the contract on the ground that the accord is against the country's security and national interest, the police commander added.

photo: ISNA

The IKIA has currently started its activities by replacing the Turkish company with some domestic ones, he further announced.

Meanwhile, Minister of Roads and Transportation Ahmad Khorram said here Saturday that 31 companies had announced their interest in the airport project and eventually a Turkish company was chosen by his ministry in accordance with pertinent laws and regulations, adding that no person or organization objected to the choice of the ministry until last month.

In case the agreement with the Turkish company is nullified, damages will be paid to the company, the minister stressed.

The IKIA began operations Saturday with an inaugural ceremony followed by the landing of one foreign aircraft, but was later told to suspend operations by the armed forces for "security" reasons.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the armed forces said that the airport would remain closed until security conditions are fulfilled.

"Security is a vital and non-negotiable requirement especially when it is crucial to the country's dignity and security," the statement added.

IKIA was first inaugurated in February but failed to start operations due to certain difficulties.

IKIA's Terminal 1, located in the middle of an uninhabited land about 45 kilometers (30 miles) south of the capital, was built at a cost of 350 million dollars. It can receive 2.5 million international and four million domestic passengers a year.

Officials, at the time the airport was completed, said that it will eventually be able to handle 40 million passengers a year, making Tehran a regional transport hub.

President Mohammad Khatami inaugurated Terminal 1 on February 1-- the 25th anniversary of the return home of the Founder of the Islamic Republic, the late Imam Khomeini from exile.

It was to start handling international flights two months later, that is, by end of March.

... Payvand News - 5/11/04 ... --

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