The Boeing Company’s recent business transaction with Iran Air is being highly criticized on the hill. The House of Representatives is taking action to block the multi-billion-dollar deal with two amendments to a financial services spending bill.
The first amendment prohibits funds to be used by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to license the proposed deal and the second one halts the use of any funds by the Treasury to authorize Iran aircraft related transactions by US financial institutions. Both have been approved.
The business deal between Boeing Co. and Iran Air would be the biggest one between the US and Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran Air plans to purchase 80 planes from Boeing at $17.6 billion and will also lease 29 planes.
Iran Air added 118 more planes to its fleet in January.
“Iran systemically uses commercial aircraft to spread death, destruction and mayhem,” said Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill) who sponsored both of the amendments to halt Iran Air from buying the aircrafts.
He condemned Boeing further for the deal. “This is our ability to stop an iconic American company, that has basically said, ‘well, look, somebody else is doing it,’” said Roskam. “When does history ever treat well the entity that said, ‘I did this terrible thing because somebody else did it too?’”
While the House aims to halt US companies from aiding terrorism, the administration supports the Boeing deal due to the Iran nuclear deal. Secretary of State John Kerry defends the Iran deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) stating that nothing in the deal “promises, hints, even discusses the possibility that we could go so far as to lend money to one of the state-sponsors of terrorism.”
However, there is evidence that Iran Air made three trips to Syria just last month carrying weapons for Bashar al-Assad’s regime. So what else will the new aircrafts be used for?
“Critics at the House Financial Services subcommittee hearing earlier in the day warned there was no way to track how Tehran could use the Boeing jets while noting the Islamic Republic remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, according the U.S. government’s own assessment. There was also no way, they said, to ensure hard-line elements such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard do not divert some of the Boeing fleet to their own use,” writes the Washington Post.
“I am extremely concerned that by relaxing the rules, the Obama administration has allowed U.S. companies to be complicit in weaponizing the Iranian regime,” said Bill Huizenga, republican representative of Michigan said Thursday at a hearing of a House Financial Services subcommittee.
Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, had similar concerns and also testified at the hearing. “The deal between Boeing and Iran risks implicating major U.S. companies in the Islamic Republic’s support for terrorism and regional adventurism,” said Dubowitz.