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Should Boeing and Airbus sell planes to Iran Air?

Iran Air and Mahan Air still ferrying militants and weapons to support Syria’s Bashar al-Assad

Should Boeing and Airbus sell planes to Iran Air?

Emanuele Ottolenghi
13th January 2017 - FDD Research

Download the full research memo here. 

In January 2016, Airbus inked a deal to sell 118 planes to Iran Air, the Islamic Republic’s flag carrier, and in June of that year, Boeing announced it had reached a deal for the sale of 100 aircraft as well. In September, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued initial export licenses for both companies to deliver the jetliners. In November, Airbus received the official export license and just this week delivered its first plane to Iran Air.

Treasury designated Iran Air on June 23, 2011 for “providing material support and services to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL).” MODAFL is itself designated under Executive Order 13382 for its proliferation activities. Treasury also stated that “commercial Iran Air flights have been used to transport missile or rocket components to Syria.”[1]

“Iran Air has shipped military-related equipment on behalf of the IRGC since 2006,” the Treasury statement said, adding, that it has “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.” It also stated that “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.”[2]

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies has tracked flights on Iran’s resupply route to the Syrian regime,[3] and has written extensively about the risks of selling additional planes to Iran.[4]



[1] U.S. Department of the Treasury, Press Release, “Fact Sheet: Treasury Sanctions Major Iranian Commercial Entities,” June 23, 2011. (https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1217.aspx)

[2] U.S. Department of the Treasury, Press Release, “Fact Sheet: Treasury Sanctions Major Iranian Commercial Entities,” June 23, 2011. (https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1217.aspx)

[3] @eottolenghi, Twitter, accessed January 13, 2017. (https://twitter.com/eottolenghi/media)

[4] Emanuele Ottolenghi, “The Iran-Boeing Deal: Rewards and Risks,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies, June 17, 2016. (http://www.defenddemocracy.org/media-hit/emanuele-ottolenghi-the-iran-boeing-deal-rewards-and-risks/

 

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airbus, boeing, iran, research-memo