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U.S. Officials Approve Deal With Iran For Boeing Planes

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The U.S. Treasury Department has given its approval for Boeing to sell passenger jets to Iran. This effectively ends a decades-old ban on selling aircraft to that country. As NPR's Jackie Northam reports, the sale was made possible with the easing of sanctions in last year's Iran nuclear agreement. And like that agreement, this deal is not without controversy.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: The deal between Boeing and Iran Air is for 80 commercial passenger aircraft. It's a mix of single-aisle and wide-body jets. The Treasury Department has been scrutinizing the terms of the sale for months.

ZACHARY GOLDMAN: The deal is not without risk. But hopefully, there were stringent monitoring and verification provisions put in the licensing agreement.

NORTHAM: Zachary Goldman is with New York University School of Law and worked on Iran sanctions at the Treasury Department. He says government agencies had a robust debate about granting Boeing a license.

GOLDMAN: The risk is that the planes could be used to carry weapons or in other ways provide support to malevolent actors like terrorist groups.

NORTHAM: Granting the license for the sale to go ahead clears a major hurdle for the aircraft sale. The Treasury Department also announced it granted a license to the European-based Airbus. There's ferocious competition between Boeing and Airbus and a good chance Boeing could have been locked out of the Iranian market for decades if it didn't get this approval. Adam Pilarski, vice president of Avitas, an aviation consultancy group says the deal is vital for Boeing.

ADAM PILARSKI: Their job is to design, produce and sell aircraft around the world. So why shouldn't they be doing it? If they don't do it, Iran can get planes from somebody else. But obviously, Boeing wants to be in there.

NORTHAM: The final details of the contract still have to be worked out between Boeing and Iran Air. If all goes according to plan, Boeing will become the first iconic American company to publicly re-enter the Iranian market since the nuclear deal.

Jackie Northam, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, geopolitics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.
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