Washington Free Beacon senior writer Adam Kredo discussed Friday on One America News a House bill, H.R. 5711, that seeks to block the sale of American commercial planes to the Iranian government.
Kredo described how the bill passed the House overwhelmingly on Thursday and is currently waiting in the Senate, noting it is unclear what will happen in the upper chamber.
"Right, and if it passes the Senate here, I think we can expect President Obama to veto this bill," host Liz Wheeler said to Kredo.
"Oh, yes," Kredo said. "Absolutely."
He then explained the "quite interesting" rationale of the White House for intending to veto the bill, should it come to Obama's desk.
"They state clearly that this would interfere with their ability to uphold the Iran nuclear deal," Kredo said. "There's actually a caveat in that deal that the U.S. has to help Iran's business interests, and one of those interests is it's airline sector."
"So we're actually obligated to facilitate these types of sales to Iran," he added.
Iran Air, the country's national airline, is slated to buy and lease $25 billion worth of planes from Boeing for commercial purposes, although many observers fear the aircraft will be converted for military use. The House bill is meant to block this deal and other similar ones from taking place with Tehran.
The White House announced in a statement Monday that it would veto the bill if it came to Obama's desk.
"The bill would undermine the ability of the United States to meet our JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] commitments by effectively prohibiting the United States from licensing the sale of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran for exclusively civil end uses, as we committed to do in the JCPOA, and seeking to deter companies from pursuing permissible business with Iran," the White House said.
Wheeler said that critics of the nuclear accord worry that Iran would use the $25 billion worth of civilian planes for military use.
"They absolutely do," Kredo said. "Look, I dug into it several weeks ago and wrote a piece based on tail numbers on airplanes. I traced planes that have been sold for commercial purposes to Iran in the late 1970s, before the Islamic Revolution, when we were doing more business with the Iranians."
"I found multiple instances in which planes that have been flown in the U.S. made by Boeing, flown by carriers like the now defunct TWA, and others that were sold to Iran later repurposed for use, quite clearly, in its air force, the Iranian air force," Kredo continued.
He said it is clear the airplanes were being converted to be used for military purposes.
Wheeler pointed out that even if these planes were not being used explicitly for military combat but rather for support missions, it would still be concerning because combat missions cannot be completed without support.
She noted that in 2011 the U.S. government imposed sanctions on the Iranian government when it came to light that it was transporting missiles and fighters to Syria.
"That's right, and I'll add one more for you," Kredo said. "Iran Air, this carrier that Boeing is looking to deal with, was once itself on the sanctions list for facilitating terrorist activities and some of the things you just mentioned. So it's very clear that in Iran's history the lines between commercial and military are blurred."
He added that Iran's hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, controls a massive portion of Iran's economy, further complicating the separation of commercial and military sectors.
Wheeler said she does not understand how the U.S. government can support contracts like the Boeing deal.
She then asked Kredo why the House and Senate do not just wait until President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office because he would likely pass the bill.
Kredo said that was a good question.
"Even if it's vetoed, I think that sends a pretty strong message," he said. "Sources that I spoke to in the House that were working on this bill and pushing it forward to a floor vote told me that this is actually a bill that they're showing as a sign of good will to Trump, that look, we're here, this could be an easy victory for you."