Monday, February 19, 2018

Iranian airline covertly bought parts from U.S. suppliers

The U.S. has suspended the export privileges of a Turkish national and three related companies it says obtained American-made aircraft parts for Iranian airlines, violating U.S. sanctions.

The move was announced earlier this month but has passed largely unnoticed. Mira Ricardel, Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration, said in a February 5 news release from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) that the sanction shows that trade with Iran that defies U.S. export laws and regulations will not be tolerated.

BIS oversees exports of high-technology and other products related to national security.

According to the Commerce Department, Turkish national Gulnihal Yegane set up shell companies to purchase equipment from U.S. suppliers on behalf of Iran's Mahan Air. The carrier is under sanctions by the U.S. for allegedly carrying arms and fighters in Syria. The jet parts were obtained through the Turkish fronts in the past several years, most recently in December.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the trade action could support the views of some in the Trump administration who oppose granting permission to Boeing to sell aircraft to another Iranian carrier.

Boeing inked a $16.6 billion deal with with Iran Air in 2016. The agreement was seen as evidence of normalizing U.S. relations with Iran following a 2015 pact in which Tehran agreed to freeze development of its nuclear program in exchange for international sanctions being lifted.

Ending the Boeing deal could impact the nuclear agreement as well as an estimated $40 billion in contracts for Boeing and Europe's Airbus, which relies on U.S. licensing for its own agreement with Iran due to the many U.S.-made parts on its planes, according to the WSJ.

The U.S. has loosened sanctions again Iran Air, but they remain in place against Mahan for more than a decade due to its alleged collaboration with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the newspaper said.

(Kate Gibson - CBS MoneyWatch)

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