Ayatollah, on the Day Boeing Signs Deal With Iran Air: 'Do Not Trust Americans At All'
by PATRICK GOODENOUGH
December 12, 2016
On the day his country's national carrier signed a deal to buy 80 passenger aircraft worth $16.6 billion from U.S. manufacturer Boeing, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged visiting Shi'a clerics from Iraq, "Do not trust Americans at all."
"Not trusting America has been an unwavering recommendation of the Islamic revolution," Khamenei told his visitors from the National Iraqi Alliance. "Whenever we in Islamic Iran heeded this recommendation, we were benefited and every time we neglected it, we found ourselves at loss."
"Americans are always opposed to the might of Islamic countries," he said, and Muslims "must never be deceived by their presences and smiles."
Elsewhere in Tehran on Sunday, Iran Air and Boeing executives were smiling and shaking hands as they finalized the biggest business agreement signed between Iran and a U.S. company since the 1979 Islamic revolution and U.S. Embassy hostage crisis brought bilateral relations to a halt.
The production and delivery of 50 Boeing 737s and 30 Boeing 777s will be a massive boost to an airline that currently possesses some three dozen ageing commercial planes, most dating back to before the 1979 revolution. (Iran Air is looking to separately purchase 100 aircraft from Europe's Airbus.)
Boeing said Sunday the agreement would support tens of thousands of directly-related jobs in the U.S., and that the first aircraft would be ready for delivery in 2018.
The company also stressed that it "coordinated closely with the U.S. government throughout the process leading up to the sale and continues to follow all license requirements as it moves forward to implement the sales agreement."
The agreement to sell U.S.-made aircraft to a country which the State Department continues to label the world's leading sponsor of terrorism was made possible under the terms of the nuclear deal between the U.S., five other powers, and Iran.
In a significant sweetener for the Khamenei regime - albeit one the Obama administration has described as one of several "minor allowances" - the text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) included a clear U.S. commitment to "allow for the sale of commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services to Iran."
The move has stoked deep misgivings in the U.S. Congress, where critics say there is no evidence the regime has stopped activities that led to U.S. sanctions being imposed against the carrier five years ago.
In 2011 the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Iran Air for allowing its planes to be used to transfer supplies and weapons to Syria's Assad regime and other beneficiaries of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
In a letter last October to the Treasury Department's acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Adam Szubin, five Republican senators pointed to recent open-source reports that Iran Air "continues to fly from known IRGC bases in Iran to Syria."
"The flight patterns and stops at known IRGC resupply locations are highly suspicious and suggests that Iran Air may be involved in Iran's efforts to support the murderous Assad regime," wrote Sens. David Perdue (Ga.), John Cornyn (Texas), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas).
The administration points out that the JCPOA sets strict conditions to the sale of aircraft to Iran.
The text states that "[s]hould the United States determine that licensed aircraft, goods, or services have been used for purposes other than exclusively civil aviation end use or have been resold or re-transferred to persons on the designated list, the United States would view this as grounds to cease preforming its commitments under the aviation section, in whole or in part."
Not satisfied with those assurances and others, the House of Representatives last month passed a bill aimed at blocking the sale of commercial aircraft to Iran.
The measure, which passed by 243 votes (235 Republicans and eight Democrats) to 174 (all Democrats), has been referred to a Senate committee, but the White House has promised President Obama will veto it if it reaches his desk.
"The United States has a long tradition of remaining faithful to our commitments and our international partners, and a reversal of this principle undercuts our credibility, diminishes our ability to lead globally, and threatens the very alliances we rely upon in implementing the JCPOA," the White House said last month.
With less than six weeks left of Obama's presidency, any decisions about the Boeing agreement will more likely be left to his successor, along with other controversies arising from a deal which President-elect Donald Trump has called one of the worst he has ever seen.
Trump has named several sharp critics of the JCPOA to key national security posts.
Courtesy of CNSNews.com
Patrick covered government and politics in South Africa and the Middle East before joining CNSNews.com in 1999. Since then he has launched foreign bureaus for CNSNews.com in Jerusalem, London and the Pacific Rim. From October 2006 to July 2007, Patrick served as Managing Editor at the organization's world headquarters in Alexandria, Va. Now back in the Pacific Rim, as International Editor he reports on politics, international relations, security, terrorism, ethics and religion, and oversees reporting by CNSNews.com's roster of international stringers.