U.S. House Votes to Block Aircraft Sales to Iran

The House has approved measures on Wednesday to curb the sales of commercial aircraft to Iran, The Hill reports. Representative Peter Roskam drafted two amendments to a 2018 government spending package that would specifically ban the use of funds to authorize financial transactions for the sales and prevent the Office of Foreign Assets Control from clearing licenses to allow aircraft sales.

Roskam stated that the U.S. should abstain from sales of aircraft to Iran due to the country’s history of using commercial aircraft to transport resources, like weapons and troops, to the Assad regime in Syria.

“Until Iran ceases using commercial aircraft to support terrorists and war criminals, western companies ought not to be allowed to sell Iranian airliners more aircraft that they can use to fuel Assad’s brutal war,” Roskam stated.

Republican Earl Blumenauer issued a warning that blockage in the sales would result in “penalizing American companies for no good purpose” and threaten the nuclear accord with Iran.

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

Roskam’s amendments were adopted by voice votes. The House additionally adopted separate legislation last November to block the licenses that sponsor aircraft sales with Iran, but it never got a vote in the Senate.

Iran Air has ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which remains sanctioned by the U.S. But Iran Air was granted sanctions relief as part of the 2015 nuclear accord, which relaxed sanctions in exchange for limits on Iran’s nuclear program. Airbus, a European aircraft manufacturer, and Boeing, an American company, have signed multibillion-dollar agreements with Iran in the last year to sell planes.

President Trump has railed against the Iran deal but his administration has not taken steps to block the aircraft sales. Forcing a stop to the transactions could be at odds with Trump’s promotion of manufacturing jobs in the U.S., despite his vow to be tougher on Iran. Roskam and Senator Marco Rubio urged President Trump in April to suspend aircraft sales to Iran.

“The possibility that U.S.-manufactured aircraft could be used as tools of terror is absolutely unacceptable and should not be condoned by the U.S. government,” they wrote in a letter to Trump.