Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee say Boeing’s recent decision to sell civil aircraft to Iran’s state-run airline could lead to Tehran’s abuse of the aircraft to support U.S. adversaries like the ruling Baathist regime in Syria and the Shia militant group Hizbollah in Lebanon.
In June, IranAir said Boeing had agreed to sell and lease its narrow-body 737 series and its extended-range wide-body 777 series, while adding that the deal won’t be finalized “unless both governments grant permissions to place an order to purchase airplanes.” The announcement came after the implementation of the multilateral comprehensive agreement aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), chairman of the Financial Services subcommittee on monetary policy and trade, said at a panel hearing Thursday that “by relaxing the rules, the Obama administration has allowed U.S. companies to be complicit in weaponizing the Iranian regime.”
One reason IranAir wants the new planes is because of its aged fleet. Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, the subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, said the planes are “so rickety … that parts were unavailable anywhere in the world to repair them.”
The subcommittee invited a Boeing representative to the hearing but he didn’t attend, opting instead to send a letter that Huizenga entered into the record.
The Export-Import Bank, the government agency that provides credit financing for exports like aircraft sales, isn’t allowed to provide financing to transactions involving Iran because the Tehran regime is classified as a state-sponsor of terrorism.
Criticism of the sale wasn’t limited to Republicans. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said that IranAir still supports Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and provides aid to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to Hizbollah.
“We should, at a minimum, not license the sale of aircraft knowing they’re going to go to an airline that’s likely to use them to support terrorism,” Sherman said. “There is no reason to believe that Iran Air is going to change its conduct.”