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Lawmaker: House Bill on Aircraft Sales a Lose-Lose Game

Lawmaker: House Bill on Aircraft Sales a Lose-Lose Game Lawmaker: House Bill on Aircraft Sales a Lose-Lose Game

A bill recently passed by the US House of Representatives complicating the sale of US aircraft to Iran is part of Washington's vain attempt to save its fraying image as a dominant power and would only result in a substantial financial loss for both Tehran and Washington, a senior lawmaker said.

"The passage of the measure to tighten congressional supervision over aircraft sales to Iran is a futile attempt to revive the United States' status in the international arena," Jalil Rahimi told ICANA on Friday.

"The Americans aim to recoup their stature lost over the past few years … Such measures are like pieces of a puzzle to be arranged together to restore the lost US position," he added.

Iran has ordered 100 airliners from European planemaker Airbus and 80 from Boeing and 20 turboprop aircraft from ATR, jointly owned by Airbus and Italy's Leonardo.

The purchases are aimed at revamping the aging national fleet, as the country had not directly purchased a western-built plane in nearly 40 years, the one exception being the sale of an Airbus to replace one shot down by the US Navy in 1988.

"Although such hostile attempts might prevent us from renewing our passenger aircraft fleet, they would also hurt the US economy because these deals are financially huge. The Americans have begun a lose-lose game," Rahimi said.

The plane purchases were made possible by a deal between Tehran and the six major powers to lift sanctions against Iran in return for temporary curbs on its nuclear activities.

It has taken delivery of three Airbus and eight ATR aircraft so far.

But US President Donald Trump's hard line toward Iran and the nuclear accord has cast doubt over the successful implementation of the aircraft deals.

The House legislation passed on Thursday would require US Treasury Department officials to report to congress on Iranian purchases of US aircraft and how those sales are financed, and certify that they would not be used in arms transfer operations, an accusation that Tehran flatly rejects.

  Breach of Int'l Trade Rules

Another lawmaker, Hamid Reza Fouladgar, criticized the motion as a breach of rules and regulations governing international transactions.

"Even if the giants like Boeing and Airbus abide by such bills, they would take their toll on US reliability at the international level because they are violating the most basic economic rights of nations," Fouladgar said.

The bill passed 252-167, winning the support of all but four Republicans joined by 23 Democrats, the Washington Examiner reported.

But the debate over the bill reflected conflicting views on whether the legislation would mark US non-compliance under the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Republicans emphasized that the legislation does not bar any aircraft sales to Iran.

Instead, it requires the Treasury Department to notify congress about the activities of the Iranian company that purchases the planes, as well as the financing used for the deal.

The bill does not create a mechanism for blocking the sales, lawmakers emphasized.

The most immediate practical effect of the legislation might be felt in the courts rather than the national security arena. It might open an avenue for American victims of alleged Iranian terrorism to collect some of the money the US courts have awarded them, which totals more than $43 billion, according to some estimates.

"By identifying the financiers of the sale, it helps them identify where they can swoop in and potentially seize assets [which is to say, seize the planes], and then sell them to get some of the compensation they deserve," a Middle East foreign policy expert who works with Republican lawmakers claimed in an email.

House Democrats maintained that the bill might provoke Iran to abandon the nuclear agreement as it interferes with their ability to work with US corporations as promised under the nuclear pact.

"[This bill] would impose a new condition," Rep. Jim Himes said on the House floor. "A new condition which would require certification by [the executive branch] and all of the process which would ensue. It is not a stretch, in fact it is fairly clear, that if [this bill] were to pass, the Iranians and others could credibly claim that we have violated our obligations under the JCPOA."

 

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