Iranian negotiator: Blocking sale of planes is violation of deal

Is the question of the sale of Boeing aircraft to Iran a make or break issue for the nuclear deal?

al-monitor Iranian deputy Foreign Minister Hamid Baeidinejad speaks to the media in Vienna, June 14, 2016. Photo by Mehr News Agency.
Arash Karami

Arash Karami

@thekarami

Topics covered

us-iranian relations, sanctions on iran, jcpoa, iranian politics, iranian diplomacy, iran nuclear deal, commerce

Jul 13, 2016

Iran's nuclear negotiator Hamid Baeidinejad said that if American lawmakers prevent the sale of passenger airplanes to Iran, it would be a violation of the nuclear agreement between his country and the six world powers.

Speaking to reporters July 13 on the one-year anniversary of the signing of the comprehensive nuclear deal that ended a decade-long dispute, Baeidinejad, who is also the director-general for political and international affairs at the Foreign Ministry, called the sanctions on airplanes "one of the oldest unjust sanctions against Iran."

Referring to the comprehensive nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, with its Persian acronym BARJAM, Baeidinejad said, "Contracts were signed with Airbus and Boeing based on the commitments of the Americans and the Europeans in the BARJAM." In January, Iran agreed to a deal with Airbus to buy 118 jets for $27 billion. In June, Iran announced that it would also purchase 100 planes for an approximate $17 billion from US-based Boeing. Not only was this a historic deal, but it was a necessary one for Iran — officials have said the country needs up to 500 new airplanes by 2025 to replace its aging fleet.

Quickly after the deal was announced with Boeing, conservative American officials opposed to the nuclear deal began to rally to block the sale. On July 7, the Republican-led House of Representatives approved measures that would prevent the sale of Boeing commercial jetliners to Iran. Boeing vice chairman Ray Conner said that if they are not allowed to sell airplanes to Iran, then other companies, meaning Airbus, should be blocked as well. Airbus planes use parts made in the United States, which would also make them subject to US legislation banning the sale of planes to Iran.

Baeidinejad said that if the US Congress successfully blocks the sale of airplanes to Iran and prevents other companies from also selling to Iran, "it is certainly a violation of BARJAM and we will confront it."

Despite congressional attempts to block the sale of planes and unresolved banking issues due to remaining US sanctions, according to Baeidinejad, Iranian negotiators believe "until this moment BARJAM has not been violated, and we are still hopeful that with consultations and negotiations there is a solution to the problems." He stressed that not every bad promise or broken agreement should be considered a violation of the nuclear deal.

During the press conference, Baeidinejad also tried to temper expectations about the economic benefits of the nuclear deal and urged patience for Iranians growing restless waiting to see the economic benefits of the deal. "Only a few months have passed since the [January] implementation of BARJAM, and we are at the beginning of the road," he said. "We never envisioned an easy path for the implementation of BARJAM."

At the press conference, a Fars News Agency reporter asked if the administration of President Hassan Rouhani is currently attempting to walk back its promises about the post-nuclear deal era, given that US sanctions continue to block investments, US court rulings confiscate Iran's billions and France hosts a rally by a group that Tehran considers a terrorist group. Baeidinejad responded that "BARJAM is not an economic or trade agreement. Our view of BARJAM must not be that of a trade agreement." He stressed, "Expectations of BARJAM must be realistic."

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