U.S airline manufacturer Boeing is coming under renewed criticism following disclosures that its latest deal with Iran is being inked with a senior regime official and leading member of the country's Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has sponsored terrorism across the Middle East and is responsible for helping to kill U.S. soldiers.
Boeing's latest deal—which the Washington Free Beacon first reported last week has been put under a critical review by the Trump administration—is being inked with Iran Aseman Airlines, which is owned and controlled by the state. The CEO of Aseman Airlines is Hossein Alaei, a "prominent and longtime member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps," or IRGC, according to several members of Congress who are petitioning the Trump administration to cancel the sales.
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Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) expressed concern that Boeing's sale of around 60 new planes to Aseman Airlines will bolster the IRGC's global terrorism operation and help the Iranian regime transport weapons and troops to conflict areas such as Syria.
The lawmakers called on the Trump administration to immediately suspend licenses permitting these sales and conduct a review of Iran's effort to use commercial aircraft for illicit activities.
"Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, has systematically used commercial aircraft for illicit military purposes, including to transport troops, weapons, and cash to rogue regimes and terrorist groups around the world," the lawmakers wrote. "The possibility that U.S.-manufactured aircraft could be used as tools of terror is absolutely unacceptable and should not be condoned by the U.S. government."
Rubio and Roskam asked the administration to "suspend current and future licenses for aircraft sales to commercial Iranian airlines until your administration conducts a comprehensive review of their role in supporting Iran's illicit activity."
Instead of granting Boeing a license for these sales, the United States should take immediate steps to "revoke authorizations and re-impose sanctions on Iranian airlines found guilty of such support, and should bar U.S. companies from selling aircraft to Iran until the Iranian regime ceases using commercial airliners for illicit military purposes," according to the letter.
The latest information about Boeing's deal with Aseman Airlines and IRGC leader Alaei has only heightened concerns about the danger of the Trump administration approving the sales.
Alaei served as commander of the IRGC Navy until 1990. During that time, Alaei oversaw the harassment of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and efforts by the IRGC Navy to plant mines in international waters.
Alaei also served as the head of the IRGC's general staff and a deputy minister of defense before assuming control of Iran's Aviation Industries Organization, which is currently subject to U.S. sanctions.
Alaei serves as a lecturer at Iran's Imam Hossein University, the IRGC's national defense college, which also has been sanctioned by the United States.
"With his deep ties and service to the IRGC, Hossein Alaei's position as CEO of Aseman therefore casts a dark shadow on the corporate ownership of and control over the airlines, and raises significant concerns that Iran Aseman Airlines is part of the IRGC's economic empire and a tool used to support its malign activity abroad," according to Rubio and Roskam.
Boeing also is pursuing deals with Iran Air, the country's flagship carrier, and Mahan Air. Both have been sanctioned by the United States.
These carriers have been accused of using "commercial aircraft to transport weapons, troops and other tools of war to rogue regimes like the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al Assad, terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, and militant groups like the Houthi rebels in Yemen," the lawmakers wrote.
Boeing could bolster Iran's illicit activities and help the country revamp its aging fleet of planes, according to the lawmakers.
"There is no reason to believe Iran has ceased its malicious activity," Rubio and Roskam wrote. "Compelling evidence indicates that commercial Iranian airliners remain pivotal in delivering military support to terrorist groups and dictatorships around the Middle East."
"Iran's commercial airlines have American blood on their hands," they wrote.