Merkel’s plane was forced to circle over Turkey for about two hours on Tuesday before it touched down in New Delhi, India, as it was not allowed access to Iran’s airspace, Germany’s Deutsche Welle news agency reported.
After an hour of negotiations mediated by Turkey, Tehran granted the German chancellor’s plane permission to cross. Had the dispute continued any longer, the Airbus 340 carrying Merkel would have been forced to stop in Turkey for refueling.
A second German plane with four German government ministers onboard flew over the country without a problem and landed on time in New Delhi.
Tehran has yet to comment on the reports.
The German Foreign Ministry said it summoned the Iranian ambassador for explanation.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that Iran should hold up the German chancellor’s journey,” Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.
The reports come as Tehran says several airports in Germany and other European countries have refused to refuel passenger planes from Iran.
The European Union, under pressure from the United States, has been taking unilateral measures — on the top of a UN Security Council’s fourth round of sanctions in 2010 — against Iran to dissuade it from continuing its nuclear program.
Tehran maintains that as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it reserves the right to peaceful nuclear energy and technology.
Freezing assets belonging to Iranian companies and officials and their associates are part of the West’s mounting restrictions to target the country, especially in its energy sector.
The UN Security Council’s sanctions resolution against Iran does not block access to petroleum products like gasoline and jet fuel.