Lawmakers concerned about potential sale of Boeing planes to Iran

Lawmakers concerned about potential sale of Boeing planes to Iran
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Two House Republicans are expressing concern over Boeing’s tentative agreement to sell about 100 commercial planes to Iran, warning that the deal could have serious national security implications. 

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), who holds a seat on the Ways and Means Committee, said that U.S. businesses should not take part in “weaponizing” Iran’s regime. 

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“We strongly oppose the potential sale of military-fungible products to terrorism’s central supplier,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter sent on Thursday to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

If approved, the plane purchase would represent a significant deal between a U.S. company and Tehran following the easing of trade sanctions in January.

“In light of recent reports that a deal is imminent, we seek information to assist the U.S. Congress in determining the national security implications of a potential sale of Boeing aircraft to Iran," they wrote.

Iran also is expected to buy planes from Airbus, according to several news reports.

The lawmakers sent Boeing 10 questions to answer by July 1, saying that so far the Chicago-based plane manufacturer has failed to respond to lawmakers’ inquiries about their negotiations to with Iran.

The letter raised further concerns that Tehran's "commercial aviation sector has been deeply involved in supporting hostile actors."

Boeing said in a statement to The Hill that “we have been engaged in discussions with Iranian airlines approved by the U.S. government about potential purchases of Boeing commercial passenger airplanes and services."

“We do not discuss details of ongoing conversations we are having with customers, and our standard practice is to let customers announce any agreements that are reached,” the company said.

“Any agreements reached will be contingent on U.S. government approval.”

Hensarling and Roskam enclosed with the letter a June 2 State Department report that labeled Iran “the foremost state sponsor of terrorism” around the world.

The lawmakers argue that Iran's military frequently uses commercial airliners for everything from transporting troops, weapons and missiles around the world to groups like Hezbollah and Hamas and the Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria.

“These terrorist groups and rogue regimes have American blood on their hands,” they wrote.

“Your potential customers do as well.”

Iran is seeking to replace about 400 planes to modernize its aged fleet, including short- and long-haul jets, according to new reports.