• Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • Send to Kindle

Boeing Comes Under Bipartisan Criticism Over Controversial Jet Sale to Iran

Boeing’s recently announced multi-billion dollar deal with Iran has drawn stinging rebukes from influential members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D – Calif.) wrote in a letter this week that the Obama administration should block the $17.6 billion sale for 80 planes, The Hill reported on Thursday. “Iran Air’s aircraft will undoubtedly be used in the future to continue to funnel lethal assistance to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, to Hezbollah, and to other terrorist entities,” argued Sherman, a top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Sherman also noted that although Iran Air — the Islamic Republic’s national carrier — is no longer sanctioned as part of last year’s nuclear deal, it still maintains close ties with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its elite Qods Force, which is sanctioned for support of terrorism.

Sherman’s letter indicates that “there is Democratic opposition” to the deal in Congress, The Hill noted.

Rep. Pete Roskam (R – Ill.), one of the more vocal Republican opponents of the deal, also slammed Boeing while addressing thousands of U.S. veterans on Thursday, The Weekly Standard reported.

“Iran is the central supplier for terrorism around the world,” Roskam said while rebuking the Illinois-based company. “The regime has killed American soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and all around the world,” he added. “It’s shameful for Boeing to even consider doing business with the Iranians, let alone agree to sell airplanes to the same regime-owned companies running their terror supply routes throughout the Middle East.”

Roskam and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R – Texas) called on Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to walk away from the deal in a letter last month, warning that it could further destabilize the Middle East.

Iran has a history of using civilian aircraft for military purposes, with a Western intelligence report seen by Reuters in 2012 confirming that Iran continued using such aircraft to transport large amounts of arms and personnel to aid Assad.

Iran’s continued support of Assad could jeopardize the Boeing deal, the Associated Press reported last week. If Iran Air, which was initially sanctioned by the Treasury Department in 2011 partially due to its transport of “missile or rocket components” to Syria, is found to be supporting Assad, it could be put back on the sanctions list and the Boeing deal will be suspended or cancelled as a result.

Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who tracks Iranian flights, recently noted that Iran Air flew to Damascus earlier this month, possibly to transport troops and materiel to Assad.

The Daily Beast reported last week that Thomas Pickering, a veteran U.S. diplomat who vocally supported the nuclear deal, never revealed that he received payments from Boeing, even when he testified before Congress in favor of the agreement.

[Photo: The Israel Project / Flickr ]