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U.S. lawmakers oppose aircraft sales to Iran; Mo. senator says yank Boeing incentives

Republican leaders in Washington and Jefferson City are pushing back against planned sales of commercial aircraft to Iran despite the Treasury Department’s announcement this week that it had begun issuing licenses for the exports.
U.S. Reps. Pete Roskam, R-Ill., and Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, in a letter to Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, seek more answers about any security implications of the delivery of aircraft to Iran.
“There is little evidence indicating that Iran Air has indeed stopped transporting weapons, troops, and cash to terrorist groups and rogue regimes,” the congressmen wrote in a letter, dated Thursday.
Both congressmen hold influential financial positions in the House. Hensarling is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Roskam is chairman of the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee’s Oversight subcommittee.
Airbus and Boeing said Wednesday that they had received Treasury approval to begin exporting more than 200 jets to Iran, under a deal struck in January. The news is likely to ease complaints from Iran over implementation of last year’s international nuclear agreement, in which Tehran agreed to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
In Missouri, state Sen. Eric Schmitt, a St. Louis County Republican running for state treasurer, said Boeing should be disqualified from receiving state tax incentives because it is doing business with a country designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Boeing, a major employer in the St. Louis area, benefited from a $1.7 billion incentive package the state Legislature approved in 2013 to lure production of a new commercial airliner in the state. Two years later, the company reached a deal with the state for $229 million in tax credits over 18 years to maintain and grow employment in Missouri.
But Boeing shouldn’t receive any tax credits after agreeing to sell 80 passenger jets to Iran’s state-owned airline, Schmitt said at a campaign event. Schmitt spoke at Boone County Republican headquarters with former treasurer Sarah Steelman on Tuesday. He focused on the lifting of some international sanctions on Iran after the country’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Although some lawmakers have raised concern that killing the jetliner jobs could cost jobs at Boeing plants, opponents say security concerns are more important.
Both Boeing and European airplane manufacturer Airbus announced this week separate $25-billion deals to sell aircraft to airlines in the country, although analysts are skeptical that there is demand for so many jets or available financing. The deal would be the biggest for an American company since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and U.S. Embassy takeover.
Under Boeing’s deal, Iran Air will buy 80 aircraft with a total list price of $17.6 billion, with deliveries beginning in 2017 and running until 2025. Iran Air also will lease 29 new Boeing 737s.
Boeing spokesman Marc Sklar said in a statement this week that Boeing remains in talks with Iran Air based on the memorandum of agreement reached in June.


Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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