Congress Votes to Block Sales of Planes to Iran

The United States Congress voted on Wednesday to adopt two measures that would block the sale of aircraft to Iran.

The measures were amendments to the 2018 spending authorization bill. One of the amendments would prohibit spending the money necessary to authorize the sales, and the other would block Office of Foreign Assets Control from issuing the necessary licenses to permit such sales, The Hill reported.

“Until Iran stops using commercial aircraft to support terrorists and war criminals, western companies will not be allowed to sell Iranian airliners more aircraft that they can use to fuel Assad’s brutal war,” Rep. Peter Roskam (R – Ill.), who introduced both amendments, explained during debate over the legislation.

Iran Air, Iran’s national carrier, had been under sanctions for its past involvement in nuclear proliferation activities and for flying “missile or rocket components” to Syria, which were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal.  However, in June, 2016 the airline flew known weapons resupply routes to Syria three times. Iran Air has continued flying regular routes to Syria.

Between the implementation of the nuclear deal in January 2016 and July 9, 2017  Iran had flown 923 flights to Syria. Among those flights, there have been two Iran Air flights to Damascus each week which do not appear to be available to the general public.

In April, Farzin Nadimi wrote that during the previous two months, Iranian civilian airlines, including Iran Air together with Syrian airlines, had “hauled about 21,000 passengers between Tehran/Abadan and Damascus in the past two months alone, along with over 5,000 tons of supplies.”

In July of last year, Congress passed similar legislation but it did not become law.

Last September, the United States Treasury Department approved licenses for Boeing to sell planes to Iran.

[Photo: Alessandro Ambrosetti / Flickr]