US House Votes to Block Aircraft Sales to Iran
EghtesadOnline: The United States House of Representatives adopted measures on Wednesday to prevent sales of commercial aircraft to Iran, despite warnings from some Democrats that it would undermine the nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers.
Rep. Peter Roskam offered two amendments to a 2018 government spending package that would specifically prohibit the use of funds to authorize financial transactions for the sales and prevent the Office of Foreign Assets Control from clearing licenses to allow aircraft sales, American newspaper The Hill reported on its website.
Roskam said the US should refrain from selling the aircraft to Iran given the country’s history of using commercial aircraft to transport resources, like weapons and troops, to support President Bashar Assad in Syria.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer warned that blocking the sales would result in “penalizing American companies for no good purpose” and threaten the nuclear deal with Iran, according to Financial Tribune.
“I think being able to maintain our commitments under the agreement with the [Iran nuclear deal] is important. That Iranian nuclear agreement has held and is one of the few bright spots in that region,” Blumenauer said.
The CEO of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization told IRNA on Friday that as the plane deals have been signed at the international level based on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (as the nuclear deal is formally known) the deals will not be affected by the House move.
"We have grown used to the US not making good on its promises … All companies remain committed to the deals and are bound to implement them." Ali Abedzadeh was quoted as saying.
Echoing similar remarks, Secretary-General of the Association of Iranian Airlines Maqsoud As'adi Samani told IRNA that Iran's deals to purchase jetliners signed after the removal of nuclear sanctions will remain valid despite the measures adopted on Wednesday.
Iran's flag carrier Iran Air has secured contracts worth tens of billions of dollars with Boeing, Airbus and ATR after the removal of international sanctions in January 2016. The Iranian airline company has so far received seven of the new aircraft, including four ATR and three Airbus jetliners.
Apart from Iran Air, Iranian airlines have signed other deals with Boeing and Airbus, notably a $3 billion firm order placed in June by Iran Aseman Airlines for 30 jets of Boeing’s 737Max model with option for another 30.
"Planemakers (Airbus and Boeing) have yet to react and the [House] measure needs the approval of the US Senate and president [before it can take effect]," Samani said.
The House additionally passed separate legislation last November to block the licenses to finance aircraft sales with Iran, but it never got a vote in the Senate.
Iran Air was granted sanctions relief as part of the 2015 nuclear accord that relaxed sanctions in exchange for limits to Iran’s nuclear program.
US President Donald Trump has railed against the Iran deal, but his administration has not taken steps to block the aircraft sales. Halting the transactions could be at odds with Trump’s promises of creating manufacturing jobs in the US.
Boeing has been lobbying non-stop to save the plane deals with Iran. It says its contract with Aseman alone will support 18,000 American jobs.