Congress urges administration to nix Boeing deal with Iran

US aerospace company Boeing inked two deals with Iranian carriers to manufacture 110 planes for $20 billion. The huge contracts would ensure the jobs of up to 120,000 workers.

But one of the carriers, Iran Air, has been caught ferrying Revolutionary Guard and Hezb'allah fighters to hotspots in the Middle East, raising questions about whether a US company should be facilitating terrorism.

Now that the Trump administration has refused to recertify the Iranian nuclear deal, there is a renewed effort in Congress to get the administration to nix the deals entirely. The House has voted several times against the Boeing deals, but have failed so far to convince the Trump administration to block the sale.

Washington Free Beacon:

The Trump administration's recent decision to increase economic pressure on Iran and rework the nuclear agreement has prompted a shift in thinking on the Boeing sales, which require special licenses from the Treasury Department to move forward, according to U.S. officials and those in Congress who are familiar with the shift in thinking on the issue.

The Trump administration is said to be viewing the sales with an increasingly critical eye and is moving, at this point, toward killing the sales, according to these sources, who pointed to concerns over Iran Air's use of commercial airplanes for terrorism purposes.

While the sale could create new American jobs, U.S. officials and others told the Free Beacon the administration and Congress will not permit any business deal that enables Iran's military efforts and pursuit of regional dominance.

The Free Beacon first disclosed in August that Congress has been investigating new evidence that Iran Air has been ferrying militants to Syria and other regional hotspots in violation of international laws. It is likely that the Obama administration withheld information about this behavior in order to help promote the nuclear agreement.

There is mounting concern in the Trump administration and Congress that Iran would use a fleet of new Boeing planes to boost its regional intervention in hotspots such as Syria, where Iranian-backed militants have repeatedly attacked American coalition forces.

While a final decision has not yet been made on whether to kill the deal, top officials have been critical of the Boeing agreement and do not view it as in the United States' national security interests.

"This is a careful consensus, ongoing process," according to one source familiar with administration deliberations on the issue. "They're adding up everything in all the columns. They're not just deciding ‘well it's more important for Boeing to make money' or ‘well it's more important to prevent Iran from sending troops to Assad.'"

"But I wouldn't count on the Trump to administration to easily allow any company, let alone an American company, to fuel Iran's war machine. Their priority is the opposite," the source said.

Iran has also made deals with European aerospace giant Airbus for an additional 73 planes. Supporters of the Boeing deal point out that if we can't sell the planes, Iran will just turn to Airbus or other airline manufacturers for the planes. But Airbus spends 42% of its aircraft-related procurement on US parts. The Trump administration could refuse Airbus those parts if they were used to build aircraft for Iran.

What about all those jobs? Layoffs are a fact of life in the aerospace industry. Boeing will be hard pressed to find other orders to make up the entire loss of the Iran contracts, but should be successful in making up some or most of the slack given the robust civilian passenger jet market at the moment. 

Certainly Boeing should have expected opposition to this deal regardless of which party held the White House. Congress was never going to let the deal slide through without something to say about it. That's why nixing a $20 billion aircraft deal is not going to be as serious a blow to the aerospace giant as you might expect.

US aerospace company Boeing inked two deals with Iranian carriers to manufacture 110 planes for $20 billion. The huge contracts would ensure the jobs of up to 120,000 workers.

But one of the carriers, Iran Air, has been caught ferrying Revolutionary Guard and Hezb'allah fighters to hotspots in the Middle East, raising questions about whether a US company should be facilitating terrorism.

Now that the Trump administration has refused to recertify the Iranian nuclear deal, there is a renewed effort in Congress to get the administration to nix the deals entirely. The House has voted several times against the Boeing deals, but have failed so far to convince the Trump administration to block the sale.

Washington Free Beacon:

The Trump administration's recent decision to increase economic pressure on Iran and rework the nuclear agreement has prompted a shift in thinking on the Boeing sales, which require special licenses from the Treasury Department to move forward, according to U.S. officials and those in Congress who are familiar with the shift in thinking on the issue.

The Trump administration is said to be viewing the sales with an increasingly critical eye and is moving, at this point, toward killing the sales, according to these sources, who pointed to concerns over Iran Air's use of commercial airplanes for terrorism purposes.

While the sale could create new American jobs, U.S. officials and others told the Free Beacon the administration and Congress will not permit any business deal that enables Iran's military efforts and pursuit of regional dominance.

The Free Beacon first disclosed in August that Congress has been investigating new evidence that Iran Air has been ferrying militants to Syria and other regional hotspots in violation of international laws. It is likely that the Obama administration withheld information about this behavior in order to help promote the nuclear agreement.

There is mounting concern in the Trump administration and Congress that Iran would use a fleet of new Boeing planes to boost its regional intervention in hotspots such as Syria, where Iranian-backed militants have repeatedly attacked American coalition forces.

While a final decision has not yet been made on whether to kill the deal, top officials have been critical of the Boeing agreement and do not view it as in the United States' national security interests.

"This is a careful consensus, ongoing process," according to one source familiar with administration deliberations on the issue. "They're adding up everything in all the columns. They're not just deciding ‘well it's more important for Boeing to make money' or ‘well it's more important to prevent Iran from sending troops to Assad.'"

"But I wouldn't count on the Trump to administration to easily allow any company, let alone an American company, to fuel Iran's war machine. Their priority is the opposite," the source said.

Iran has also made deals with European aerospace giant Airbus for an additional 73 planes. Supporters of the Boeing deal point out that if we can't sell the planes, Iran will just turn to Airbus or other airline manufacturers for the planes. But Airbus spends 42% of its aircraft-related procurement on US parts. The Trump administration could refuse Airbus those parts if they were used to build aircraft for Iran.

What about all those jobs? Layoffs are a fact of life in the aerospace industry. Boeing will be hard pressed to find other orders to make up the entire loss of the Iran contracts, but should be successful in making up some or most of the slack given the robust civilian passenger jet market at the moment. 

Certainly Boeing should have expected opposition to this deal regardless of which party held the White House. Congress was never going to let the deal slide through without something to say about it. That's why nixing a $20 billion aircraft deal is not going to be as serious a blow to the aerospace giant as you might expect.

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