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  • Tuesday, May 9 2017
  • Daniel Jiménez
  • Analysis
  • Geopolitics
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Last week, representatives from Boeing visited Tehran to hammer out the details of a proposed multibillion-dollar sale of commercial aircraft to Iran. The possible sale of these planes has sparked fierce debate in the U.S. Congress, with many on both sides of the aisle rightly concerned that the Iranian government and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) may use these planes to send arms and illicit goods to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces or to the international terrorist group Hezbollah. With the Senate prepared in the next few weeks to consider legislation on this topic and the Treasury Department poised to provide Boeing (as well as Airbus, which reached its own deal with Iran earlier this year) the necessary permission to proceed with the sale, the fight appears headed for a second round.

Critics of Boeing’s and Airbus’ sales are justifiably focused on the risks: in 2011, the U.S. Treasury added Iran Air, the proposed recipient of the aircraft, to the Specially Designated Nationals list because of its work on behalf of the IRGC. (The list identifies organizations and individuals that the U.S. government believes are involved in terrorism.) Although the airline was delisted as part of last summer’s nuclear deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran Air planes have been implicated in sanctions evasion and have flown known weapons resupply routes to Syria as recently as June.