Don't Risk Selling Passenger Planes to Iran


A Mahan Air Airbus A340 approaches the Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran, Dec. 14, 2019.


Ahmad Halabisaz/Zuma Press

With all eyes on Ukraine, few Americans are following the Iran nuclear negotiations. The Biden administration has shared little with the general public or Congress in regards to the progress of the talks. But if the previous is any information, the U.S. could also be on the point of making a big national-security mistake by agreeing to promote Tehran American- and European-made passenger jets—and the know-how essential to take care of them.

In the unique Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, negotiated by the


administration in 2015, the U.S. and Europe agreed to promote Iran lots of of recent industrial plane. At the time, opponents in Congress, equivalent to future Secretary of State

Mike Pompeo,

stated the gross sales would allow the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to weaponize industrial plane in terrorist assaults paying homage to 9/11. Attorney

Mark Dubowitz

testified earlier than Congress in July 2016 that with none approach to management utilization, plane could also be commandeered on the whim of the IRGC to maneuver troops and provides for malign actions. In truth, some main Iranian airways like Mahan have been excluded from the 2015 deal as a result of they instantly supported IRGC actions.

The technological hole between Iran and the West has grown wider since 2015 due to Western sanctions and advances. Today’s industrial plane are manufactured from light-weight and environment friendly composite supplies, advanced inner electronics and extremely fuel-efficient jet engines—all thought of military-grade a number of quick years in the past. Cutting-edge technological prowess is required to take care of such plane. Even China, which is extra technologically superior than Iran, stays depending on jet-engine know-how from a U.S.-France three way partnership to maintain its home industrial airliner, the C919, within the air.

To present Iran such know-how now could be dangerous to U.S. pursuits. No airline can function and preserve advanced plane with out gigabytes of information in regards to the planes’ quite a few subsystems. U.S. company mental property is below fixed exterior cyberassault by malign actors, together with Iran. Although U.S. officers equivalent to Deputy Attorney General

Lisa Monaco

have acknowledged that cyberassaults have turn into extra diffuse, refined and harmful, the U.S. appears decided to plow forward with this provision of the deal anyway. Giving Iran authorized entry to an enormous physique of proprietary U.S. know-how would solely add to the myriad cyber threats that U.S. firms already face.

Access granted below an export license received’t suffice. U.S. firms, nonetheless refined, aren’t geared up to watch compliance successfully when Iran would have authorized entry to U.S. aerospace databases. Even probably the most well-intentioned Iranian airline could be compelled to conform if the IRGC demanded to make use of the airline’s legally licensed entry to pilfer know-how for its personal functions.

In 2015, when the U.S. most not too long ago licensed plane gross sales to Iran, officers on the State, Treasury and Commerce departments labored diligently with business to draft as hermetic a licensing and monitoring regime as essential to export essential technical information. The effort was affordable and commensurate to handle dangers recognized on the time. In growing the license provisions, I (and others) argued that Iranian airways might entry information just for the plane they bought and couldn’t forage in U.S. databases for extra delicate info. The export license in addition to contractual provisions between vendor and purchaser made that express. Yet hacking know-how has superior considerably since 2015, and in 2022 the IRGC could also be each in a position and prepared to penetrate company firewalls within the U.S. and Europe.

If the Biden administration isn’t glad {that a} deal might be struck with airways below the thumb of the IRGC, then promoting state-of-the-art plane to Iran in any respect could be silly. To quote Sen.

Robert Menendez,

chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “I want the [Biden] administration to understand that no deal is better than a bad deal.” Selling plane to Iran would make it an unequivocally dangerous deal.

The Iranian individuals aren’t America’s enemy and need to journey on protected plane that aren’t held along with government-approved black-market elements and operated gone their life expectations. Unfortunately, a change in that actuality can’t occur below the present Iranian regime with out imperiling U.S. nationwide safety.

Mr. Shaheen is a trade-controls and sanctions legal professional in Alexandria, Va. He retired in 2021 as chief counsel of world commerce for


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