As Rovvy Lepor, points out in an op-ed on Track Persia, the Iranian Regime has a long history of using commercial aeroplanes to supply weapons to terrorists without drawing the attention of foreign governments. He advised that for this reason the US Government must scrap this deal between the Illinois company and Iran.
Lepor wrote: “Iran regularly uses commercial aircraft to transfer advanced weapons to the Syrian regime in support of the brutal Syrian civil war that has left approximately half a million dead. Iran also arms Hizb’allah with weapons and missiles via commercial aircraft.”
The deal was signed under the pretence of upgrading Iran’s current fleet, which because of sanctions was woefully behind the planes found in the rest of the world. While it is certainly possible that Boeing was just unaware of the real reason when they signed the deal, it seems unlikely that a company of Boeing’s size did not do thorough investigations.
However, this has attracted plenty of coverage in the months since and it cannot have escaped Boeing’s attention. Lepor refers to their continued support for this deal as callous and treacherous.
• Iran Air: Boeing will supply 80 aircraft (50 737 MAX 8s and 30 777s) for $16.6 billion
• Aseman Airlines: Boeing will supply 30 737 MAX aeroplanes for $3 billion (with the option of opportunity another 30)
Boeing argues that these deals will provide around 118,000 US jobs but the Trump administration would do well to prioritise national security over job prospects.
In 2011, Iran Air was sanctioned by the US for transporting “military-related equipment” on the orders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL)., but they were delisted in 2016 after the nuclear deal was agreed.
Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies testified before Congress that from January 16, 2016 (the nuclear deal implementation day) through March 30, 2017, 690 commercial flights participated in airlifts from Iran to Syria; half of which were operated by Iran Air and Mahan Air. Ottolenghi assessed that these airlines were ferrying weapons and fighters to support the Assad dictatorship.
Lepor wrote: “By supporting these terrorist groups and rogue regimes, Iran’s commercial airlines have American blood on their hands.”
Although Mahan Air is still under sanctions, Lepor points out that it would be easy for Iran Air to transfer the planes once they arrive in Iran. He notes that the planes ordered by Iran from Boeing and France’s Airbus effectively triple the existing commercial fleet and is more likely a cover for terrorism.
Lepor wrote: “At best, the tunnel vision, or at worst, the careless indifference to the potential loss of life of so many by these Boeing-Iran deals indicate that Boeing is acting in bad faith with the American people and with U.S. National Security. Such contracts threaten the safety and security of not only American allies such as Israel, but of the United States itself. Therefore, the U.S. Congress and President Trump must put an immediate stop to the Boeing aircraft sales to Iran.”