Boeing’s Contract with Iran Harms National Security

In recent months Boeing has signed contracts with Iranian airlines for the sale of over 100 state-of-the-art aircraft. Iran has a history of supplying terrorists with advanced weaponry on commercial airplanes and the U.S. government must not allow Boeing to sell aircraft to Iran.

Iran regularly uses commercial aircraft to transfer advanced weapons to the Syrian regime in support of the brutal Syrian civil war that has left approximately half a million dead. Iran also arms Hizb’allah with weapons and missiles via commercial aircraft.

Despite this, Boeing chooses to callously and treacherously turn a blind eye to the usage of Boeing aircraft in the service of terrorists who threaten U.S. national security and that of key allies such as Israel.

Hizb’allah is a terrorist proxy army of Iran responsible for the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings that claimed the lives of 305 people, including 241 U.S. peacekeepers. Hizb’allah was also responsible for starting the 2006 Lebanon War against Israel.

Boeing may argue that pursuant to the Iran nuclear deal (aka the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) it’s perfectly legal to sign aircraft contracts with Iranian airlines not currently sanctioned. They may note that the Boeing deals with Iranian airlines would support close to 118,000 U.S. jobs and offer an important boost to the economy.

The Boeing deals made to date would provide up to 140 American-made aircraft. They include a December 2016 contract with Iran Air valued at $16.6 billion for the purchase of eighty new aircraft, including fifty 737 MAX 8s and thirty 777s and an April 2017 Boeing contract with Aseman Airlines valued at $3 billion for the sale of thirty 737 MAX airplanes (with an option for an additional thirty, allowing for a $6 billion cost for sixty aircraft). Iran has said that it negotiated with Boeing to pay only about $8 billion for the Iran Air contract. In addition, Aseman Airlines would also likely only pay approximately half of the announced contract amount.

In 2011, the U.S.Treasury Depeartment sanctioned Iran Air for its employment by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) for its transport of “military related equipment.” On January 16, 2016, pursuant to the Iran nuclear deal, Iran Air was officially delisted from the Treasury Department’s list of sanctioned entities. While it may seem to the casual observer that Iran Air has ceased support for terrorism and the Syrian regime since being delisted from sanctions, that could not be farther from the truth.

In congressional testimony, Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies testified that from Implementation Day of the Iran nuclear deal on January 16, 2016 through March 30, 2017, 690 commercial flights participated in airlifts from Iran to Syria. Half of those flights (345) were flown by Iran Air (114) and Mahan Air (231). These airlines undoubtedly ferry weapons and fighters to support the Syrian dictatorship and terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah.

While Mahan Air is still under U.S. sanctions, the state-owned Iran Air is fully capable of transferring aircraft to Mahan Air. There are currently only thirty-four aircraft in the Iran Air fleet, two of which were delivered this year by Airbus. Overall, Iran plans to add approximately 500 airplanes to its commercial fleet of about 251 aircraft, effectively tripling its commercial air fleet.

While this would improve the safety of Iranian air travel, it would come at the steep cost of substantially advancing the capability of Iran to quickly arm Hizb’allah with advanced weapons that would threaten Israel and the region. Dr. Ottolenghi notes that Iran Air, with its dramatically expanded air fleet, would likely act as a front for other Iranian airlines that support the Syrian regime and Hizb’allah.

On July 12, 2016, Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Danon revealed that Hizb’allah has 120,000 missiles aimed at Israel -– a whopping seventeen times the number of missiles it possessed just a decade earlier during the 2006 Lebanon War, estimated at 7,000! Then, in November Danon informed UN Security Council members that “The Iranian Al-Quds Force packs weapons, ammunition and missile technology to Hezbollah in suitcases and puts them on Mahan Air flights,” adding that “these planes fly directly to the airport in Lebanon or Damascus and from there the weapons are transferred on the ground to Hezbollah.”

Boeing’s focus on achieving lucrative deals with Iranian airlines that could net them upwards of $10 billion to $20 billion dollars (depending on final amount agreed by the parties) potentially comes at the expense of the lives and the well-being of an untold number of innocent civilians suffering the ravages of the Syrian civil war. In addition, the very real threat to life and limb of millions of Israelis posed by a strengthened Hizb’allah terrorist organization are all too clear.

In an April 10, 2017 letter to President Trump, Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Peter Roskam urged a stop to the Boeing deal, stating:

…Iran Air, Mahan Air, and other privately and publicly-owned Iranian commercial airlines use commercial aircraft to transport weapons, troops, and other tools of war to rogue regimes like the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, and militant groups like the Houthi rebels in Yemen… Compelling evidence indicates that commercial Iranian airliners remain pivotal in delivering military support to terrorist groups and dictatorships around the Middle East.

By supporting these terrorist groups and rogue regimes, Iran’s commercial airlines have American blood on their hands…

The U.S. Treasury Department outlined Iran Air’s support of terrorism and terrorist-related activities in its 2011 press release announcing sanctions, as follows:

Iran Air has provided support and services to MODAFL and the IRGC through the transport and/or transfer of goods for, or on behalf of, these entities. On numerous occasions since 2000, Iran Air shipped military-related electronic parts and mechanical equipment on behalf of MODAFL…

Iran Air has shipped military-related equipment on behalf of the IRGC since 2006, and in September and November 2008, Iran Air shipped aircraft-related raw materials to a MODAFL-associated company, including titanium sheets, which have dual-use military applications and can be used in support of advanced weapons programs.

Rockets or missiles have been transported via Iran Air passenger aircraft, and IRGC officers occasionally take control over Iran Air flights carrying special IRGC-related cargo. The IRGC is also known to disguise and manifest such shipments as medicine and generic spare parts, and IRGC officers have discouraged Iran Air pilots from inspecting potentially dangerous IRGC-related cargo being carried aboard a commercial Iran Air aircraft, including to Syria.

Additionally, commercial Iran Air flights have also been used to transport missile or rocket components to Syria.

At best, the tunnel vision, or at worst, the careless indifference to the potential loss of life of so many by these Boeing-Iran deals indicate that Boeing is acting in bad faith with the American people and with U.S. National Security. Such contracts threaten the safety and security of not only American allies such as Israel, but of the United States itself.

Therefore, the U.S. Congress and President Trump must put an immediate stop to the Boeing aircraft sales to Iran.

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