U.S. Grants Airbus Second License for Iran Sales

November. 22 2016

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued a second license to Airbus for the sale of airliners to Iran, the company confirmed Tuesday. The approval covers a second tranche of airliner sales over which Airbus continues to negotiate with Iran Air. The first license, issued in September, covered “short-term” deliveries of 17 A320s and A330s to Iran Air. This second license addresses the remainder of a contract negotiated in January covering 21 airplanes from the current A320 family, 24 A320neo-family airplanes, 27 of the current A330 family, 18 A330-900s, 16 A350-1000s and 12A380s.

For Boeing, its OFAC license–also issued in September–allows it to complete negotiations over a memorandum of agreement with Iran Air covering 80 airliners of various type, including 737s, 777s and 787s. Boeing has also agreed to help arrange the lease of another 29 of its jets to Iran Air. Separately, Franco-Italian turboprop maker ATR continues to wait for its OFAC license to proceed with the sale of 20 ATR 72-600s to Iran Air.

The most recent issuance of the license to Airbus comes at a sensitive time for politicians in the U.S., now in the midst of a transition from the administration of President Barack Obama whose deal with Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions allowed for the lifting of sanctions that until this year prevented any manufacturer from selling airplanes with at least 10 percent U.S. content to airlines in the Islamic Republic. Now, as an incoming administration openly hostile to the deal prepares to assume power in January, Congressional Republicans have cautioned Obama against taking any action that could compromise President-elect Donald Trump’s ability to institute his policies as they relate to Iran.

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives voted to bar the Treasury Department from authorizing commercial aircraft sales to Iran in the latest effort by Republicans to undermine the Iran nuclear deal. The bill would next need to pass the Senate, which, although Republican controlled, failed to pass an earlier bill this summer that would have blocked sales of commercial aircraft with 10 percent U.S. content. At the time President Obama vowed to veto any such bill, and this latest measure would likely face the same fate. In any case, during the recent election campaign, Trump pledged to unilaterally abandon the nuclear deal with Iran when he takes office in January.

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