US allows Airbus, Boeing to sell airplanes to Iran

US allows Airbus, Boeing to sell airplanes to Iran
© Greg Nash

Airbus and Boeing have both been given the green light to sell airplanes to Iran in a multibillion-dollar, historic deal, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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The European-based Airbus became the first manufacturer on Wednesday to receive permission from the U.S. to sell aircraft to Iran since sanctions were lifted on the country as part of an international nuclear deal struck earlier this year. Chicago-based Boeing received similar approval shortly after.

The Treasury Department approved the transfer of 17 Airbus airplanes to Iran Air for a list-price value of $27 billion, and some of those deliveries may occur as early as this year, according to the WSJ. Although Airbus is based in Europe, the company needed U.S. approval because a portion of Airbus components are of American origin.

Boeing is planning to sell 80 commercial aircraft to Iran Air for $17.6 billion and leasing another 29 aircraft, bringing the deal to $25 billion.

The announcement comes as Iranian and U.S. leaders gather in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly.

But the landmark deal is sure to spark fierce political opposition.

Iran Air was removed from a sanctions list as part of the nuclear agreement, which rolled back sanctions in exchange for limits to Iran's nuclear program. Iran has been eager to modernize its aging aircraft fleet and normalize trade relations.

But Republican and some Democratic critics of the deal have expressed concern that the aircraft would be used by Iran for illicit activities, such as ferrying weapons to Syria in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The House passed GOP-led legislation this summer that would block Boeing and Airbus aircraft sales to Iran.

--This story was updated at 6:35 p.m.