Iranian Airlines has reportedly signed a deal with U.S. aviation company Boeing to modernize their outdated fleet. If reached, the deal would be the largest commercial relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran since 1979.
Iranian airlines has one of the oldest fleets of aircraft in commercial aviation as a result of international sanctions since the revolution in 1979. The airline reportedly still operates Boeing aircraft purchased before the revolution by the Shah of Iran’s government.
Europe-based aviation company Airbus announced a 27 billion dollar deal for 118 aircraft with Iranian airlines in January. The Iranian deal with Boeing would reportedly be for 100 aircraft, demonstrating the enormity of the deal for a U.S. company with a country on the official sponsor of terror list.
Boeing stressed in emails to the Washington Free Beacon and The New York Times that any deal with Iran is, “contingent on U.S. government approval.”
The Obama administration believes that by encouraging trade with Iran, it will open opportunities for bilateral talks and reduce the hostile relationship with the Islamic Republic. Department of State spokesman John Kirby confirmed this position to the Free Beacon, saying, “We have seen a number of major companies make tangible plans to take advantage of the new commercial opportunities.”
Mark Dubowitz, an Iran expert at the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The New York Times any major commercial relationship with Iran is difficult because of U.S. sanctions. Dubowitz explained the civilian aviation industry is closely linked with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a paramilitary organization protected by Ayatollah Khamenei that overtly supports terrorist groups across the globe. He called such an arrangement a “due diligence” nightmare.
Dubowtiz speculated that President Hassan Rouhani needed to demonstrate economic benefits to the Iranian people before he runs for re-election next year. Experts also wonder how Supreme Islamic Leader Ayatollah Khomeni, who routinely declares the United States Iran’s worst enemy, would react to such a deal.
Iranian Minister Of Roads And Urban Development, Abbas Akhoundi, told Iranian news agencies the deal would be announced in a few days, and that the country had gotten a very good deal on the new planes.
In May, three Republican lawmakers from Boeing’s home state of Washington wrote to the company expressing severe dismay at the prospect of a commercial deal with Iran, and asked Boeing to consider “the profound moral implications of engaging a nation that has proven time and time again that it cannot be trusted.”
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