Congress voting to prevent aircraft sales to Iran

Last week, the United States’ House of Representatives (the lower house of Congress) adopted measures to prevent sales of commercial aircraft to Iran.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill) was the first to propose two amendments to the spending package for the next fiscal year that specifically prohibits the ability to authorize financial transactions for these sales. The move will also prevent the Office of Foreign Assets Control from clearing licenses to allow aircraft sales to the Islamic country.

Roskam defends his move by saying that commercial aircraft are often used to transport weapons to support President Bashar Assad, the leader of Syria.

“Until Iran ceases using commercial aircraft to support terrorists and war criminals, western companies ought not to be allowed to sell Iranian airlines more aircraft that they could use to fuel Assad’s brutal war,” Roskam said during house debates.

The motion didn’t come without resistance from other American lawmakers. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore) argues that blocking the sales could “penalize American companies for no good purpose” and threaten the recent nuclear deal that the US made with Iran.

“I think being able to maintain our commitments under [the nuclear deal] is important,” Blumenauer said. “That Iranian nuclear agreement has held and is one of the few bright spots in that region.”

Despite the resistance from Blumenauer and other Democrats, Roskam’s proposals passed by voice votes. Similar proposals were passed in the house as part of the spending bill last year, but weren’t passed into law due to a lack of votes from the Senate.

The Iranian government is understandably upset about this move. First, Iranian airlines clearly like using American products, as Boeing has closed large multi-million dollar deals with Iranian airlines in the past year.

However, the Iranian government says that the ban on aircraft sales to the nation is also a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, under which Iran agreed to cut its stockpiles of medium-enriched uranium and low-enriched uranium and reduce its number of gas centrifuges in exchange for relief from the US, European Union, and UN sanctions.

World leaders after the signing of JCPOA.
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

“It should be acknowledged that the sale of aircraft to Iran is specified in the JCPOA text and annex,” said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who is chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee in the Iranian Parliament.

“One of the things that has been explicitly mentioned in the JCPOA is the lifting of sanctions on the sale of airplanes and parts and after-sale services,” MP Mojtaba Zonnour, head of the Iranian Parliament’s Nuclear Committee, said.

These sanctions are not yet in place, as they need to pass through the senate and be signed by US President Donald Trump before being enforced.

Feature image from Wikimedia Commons