The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) released the following statement regarding the scheduled vote on amendments to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2017 (H.R. 5485) and the House Financial Services Committee hearing regarding the sale of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran:
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It is no secret that opponents of the Iran nuclear accord continue in their attempts to upend U.S. obligations under the agreement. By attempting to block Boeing’s pending sale of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran, opponents of the Iran nuclear accord are also seeking to undermine significant U.S. commercial interests and to impose humanitarian suffering on the Iranian people by denying them access to safe air travel.
Today, the House of Representatives will vote on amendments to the House Financial Services Committee appropriations bill that would put at risk the U.S.’s obligation under the nuclear accord to allow for the sale of such aircraft to Iran. These amendments would effectively prohibit U.S. authorities from licensing the sale of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran. As such, the amendments pose a significant risk to the Iran nuclear accord, as the agreement to license the sale of such planes was a key component to winning Iran’s consent to reversing its nuclear program.
It is clear that some lawmakers have no interest in securing U.S. national security interests. Despite a track record of success in reversing Iran’s nuclear progress, Republicans continue to seek to undermine the nuclear accord at every turn. Their hope is to bring us back to the escalatory cycle that saw a growing Iranian nuclear program and the threat of war. As with so much else, these lawmakers are virtually alone in the world in their opposition to this historic agreement.
Proponents of these amendments ignore the fundamental issue at issue here – the humanitarian stakes involved in the sale of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran. For the past three decades, Iran has had one of the worst civilian flight safety records in the world with more than 2,000 deaths caused by plane crashes. Iran’s civilian flight safety record is the result of U.S. sanctions that prohibited the sale of aircraft to Iran and – for a significant period of time – limited even the provision of spare parts and the servicing of repairs for Iranian commercial passenger aircraft. The lifting of these sanctions under the Iran nuclear accord allows the Iranian people to once again feel secure in their air travels. Holding the Iranian people hostage by limiting the sale of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran is an inhumane policy that has fortunately been brought to a close. U.S. lawmakers should not be seeking a return to such an inhumane policy.
As with much else, some lawmakers appear to be immune to facts. Their concern that the commercial passenger aircraft provided to Iran will be used to traffick arms and personnel to Syria in the defense of the Assad regime is belied by the very text of the nuclear accord. Under the nuclear accord, the U.S. is committed to allow for the sale of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran so long as such aircraft is not transferred to U.S.-designated entities and is not used for illicit purposes. If the U.S. finds that Boeing’s aircraft has been used in such a manner, then the licenses are revoked and the U.S. is absolved from that commitment. As a result, legislators are today pointing to a fear that U.S. negotiators have already addressed in the Iran nuclear accord.
Scoring political points is one thing, but putting U.S. national security interests and the safety and security of the Iranian people at risk is another. These amendments to the House Financial Services Committee appropriations bill would fatally undermine the Iran nuclear accord and place the Iranian people in harm’s way once again.