Saturday, 06 August, 2016

Boeing’s aircraft sale to Iran in U.S. interests

The House of Representatives, before adjourning for a seven-week vacation, passed several bills intended to block the sale or lease by Boeing of some $25 billion worth of commercial aircraft to Iran Air.

It is worth noting that the legislative body did not manage to pass any of the U.S. government-necessary appropriations bills before taking the rest of the summer off.

The House’s effort to block the Boeing transaction — the sale of 80 aircraft and the lease of another 29, with delivery to begin next year — makes no sense for overall American interests. The action’s genesis lies, first, in the House Republican majority’s continued opposition to the deal that the Obama administration negotiated to exchange suspension of Iran’s nuclear arms program for suspension of international economic sanctions against the Tehran regime. The U.S. side of the accord included signature by the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (China, France, Russia and Britain) and Germany. Israel continues to lobby Washington against the agreement.

Iran’s buying U.S. planes for its national airline has a number of advantages for the United States. First, there is the question of the American jobs that will be created to manufacture the aircraft. Second, without being too noisy about it, there is the long-term effect of the dependence of Iran on a U.S. source for spare parts, upgrades and other technical support for its aircraft. This factor is extremely important if it is as agreed that one objective of the nuclear agreement was to begin to rein Iran into the global economy and the international community in general in terms of its future behavior. Boeing and U.S. intelligence will be capable of monitoring Iran’s use of the aircraft, if it were to use them for other than commercial purposes.

There is also the fact of potential non-U.S. competition for Iran’s aircraft purchases. It is estimated that it will be buying some 500 new planes over the next 10 years. Iran has already contracted to buy 118 planes from the European firm Airbus. It is reported to have already arranged financing for that purchase, working around U.S. banks through French and German banks. Iran is apparently also looking at the possibility of purchasing Chinese-manufactured aircraft, if the Boeing deal is killed by Congress, although it would clearly prefer to buy American for the quality of the technology.

The House action, clearly disregarding the interests of American workers, companies and banks, is almost incredible — in an election year or any other time. It should get out of the way of the functioning of America’s economy in the world.

The above editorial appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on July 27.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Realiran

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