Trump Must Stop the Boeing Deal with Iran

Planes can be used for military purposes.

President-elect Trump threatened to cancel an order for Boeing to build a new Air Force One because the projected costs, he said, are “out of control.” While Mr. Trump’s efforts to protect American taxpayers’ money are laudable, there is a far more urgent matter involving Boeing that demands his attention. Immediately upon taking office, he should stop Boeing in its tracks from following through with the deal it just announced to sell Iran’s national carrier, Iran Air, 80 technologically advanced jets. As a commentator put it in an article appearing in The Hill, Boeing is preparing to accept “blood money.” President-elect Trump should stop the deal on his first day in office by rescinding the license granted by the Obama Treasury Department, which gave the green light for the sale to proceed in the first place.

The Obama Treasury Department also approved a license allowing for the sale of Airbus aircrafts, which include parts made in the United States, to Iran Air.  Mr. Trump should rescind that license as well.  Both licenses were foolishly granted as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to placate the thuggish Iranian regime and preserve the fundamentally flawed nuclear agreement that President Obama considers his major foreign policy legacy. If it too late for Mr. Trump to undo this entire fiasco because he won’t be able to get our allies to go along with renewed sanctions, he can at least mitigate the damage by preventing the Iranian regime from getting its hands on advanced U.S. aircraft, component parts and technologies.

Iran continues to be the world’s foremost state sponsor of global terrorism. Its military forces have continued to harass U.S. naval vessels and threatened to shoot down Navy surveillance aircraft as they flew over international waters.  If President-elect Trump were to allow the Boeing and Airbus deals to proceed, Iran’s national carrier will be receiving advanced aircraft that have dual use for military as well as civilian purposes.  

A senior congressional source quoted by the Washington Free Beacon regarding the Boeing deal said, “This is insane–an American company is rebuilding the Ayatollah’s Air Force right before our eyes. They’re not just selling aircraft either–they are cutting the Iranians into the production process, building supply lines within the Islamic Republic so the regime can insulate itself from any future attempts to impose sanctions. This is basically the equivalent of setting up a factory to build Sherman tanks in Munich in 1938.”

While the Boeing deal is worth 16.6 billion dollars at list prices, Iran Air is reportedly to receive a 50 percent discount. The sale is supposed to includes 50 737 MAX 8s, which, Boeing says, incorporate “the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines.” The deal also includes 777-300ER and 777X aircraft. In promoting the deal to the president-elect, his incoming team and the American public, Boeing claimed in its press release that the new orders will support “nearly 100,000 U.S. jobs,” but without offering any details.

Boeing, with the support of the Obama administration, is trying to sell us a bill of goods. Its jobs projection is little more than smoke and mirrors, not a hard commitment. Boeing conspicuously left out of its press release any mention about reversing its previously announced layoffs or where exactly the aircraft components will be manufactured and assembled. According to Maghsood Asadi Samani, the secretary of Iran’s airline companies organization, the Boeing and Airbus deals will include “technology transfer” and “participation in producing aircraft parts and equipment.”

In any case, the possibility of adding some jobs at the expense of national security would be a reckless trade-off. “America first” should mean American lives first, before anything else. Allowing Iran to purchase aircraft with U.S. advanced technology and components, which can be converted to military use and turned against our own forces and innocent civilians, is potentially suicidal. The author of The Hill article explained in cogent terms what is at stake:

“I’m all for American jobs, and I want to see the good people of Seattle enhance their economy. But the patriotic Americans who work at Boeing’s factories need to know that the planes they’re going to build will ferry murderous equipment for terrorists to kill men, women, and children.”

With the benefit of technology transfer and some reverse engineering, it would not be difficult for the Iranians to repurpose the aircraft for military use. By Boeing’s own admission, “The 737 serves as a platform for military derivatives.”  Moreover, intelligence reports have concluded that Iran Air has been involved in the past in using its civilian aircraft to transport weapons to aid the Assad regime in Syria. The U.S. Treasury Department had blacklisted Iran Air for helping the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. There is no logical reason to think that with 80 new Boeing jets in its possession, the state-owned airline will not resume its support of the Iranian military and Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

President-elect Trump will start his term off on the right foot if he kills the Boeing deal immediately on national security grounds and rescinds the Airbus license as well.