Iran has given
Russian commercial pilots working in the Islamic Republic two months to
leave the country as it has no need for them, Transport Minister Hamid
Behbahani was quoted as saying on Saturday.
The move is a further sign of strains
between Iran and Russia, which has indicated it could back new sanctions
against Tehran over its disputed nuclear work. For its part, Iran has
voiced frustration over Moscow’s failure to deliver a defense missile
Iran’s semi-official Fars
News Agency said the idea to order the Russian pilots to leave the
country gained momentum after a Russian-made aircraft caught fire as it
landed in northeastern Iran in January, injuring more than 40 people.
The plane belonged to Iran’s Taban airline
but the pilot was Russian, Fars said. It did not say how many Russians
currently worked as pilots for Iranian airlines.
“Upon an order from the president (Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad), the Road and Transport Ministry has set a two-month
deadline, upon the expiry of which all Russian pilots will have to leave
the country,” Behbahani said.