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Rubio, Colleagues Demand Answers on Aircraft Sales to Iranian Airline Tied to Terrorism

Oct 13, 2016 | Press Releases

Miami, FL – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), David Perdue (R-GA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) are pressing the Obama Administration for answers about its decision to approve licenses for the sale of nearly 200 commercial aircraft to Iran Air, an airline the U.S. government sanctioned in 2011 for transporting rockets and missiles on behalf of Iranian entities known to support terrorism and regional instability, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran removed U.S. sanctions against Iran Air, but the airline has continued to engage in activities that may constitute violations of U.S. and international law. On September 8, 2016, an Iran Air flight left Tehran, made a stopover at the IRGC’s primary resupply location at Abadan Airport, and then continued on to Damascus, Syria. The flight patterns and the stops at known IRGC resupply locations are highly suspicious and suggest Iran Air may be involved in Iran’s efforts to support the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad.

“To date, we have seen no proof of a change in the conduct that prompted the initial sanctions on Iran Air,” the senators’ letter states. “In fact, we have seen evidence to the contrary. Open source reports have shown that Iran Air continues to fly from known IRGC bases in Iran to Syria. While Mahan Air – which remains under U.S. sanctions – has been the primary airline for sending military supplies and personnel to Syria, Iran Air has flown dozens of similar routes.”

“Specifically, we are concerned that Iran Air could allow airlines that remain under sanctions to use these planes through informal arrangements, thanks to the recently-granted licenses,” the senators continue. “The combined Airbus and Boeing deals will provide Iran Air with nearly 200 planes – a huge leap from its current fleet of 36 aircraft. Even assuming that Iran Air significantly expands its routes over the next decade, 200 planes are more than the airline can reasonably absorb. As a result, it is not unreasonable to suspect that Iran will allow other Iranian carriers—including those that are still sanctioned—such as Mahan Air, to use these planes through informal arrangements.”

The full text of the senators’ letter to U.S. Treasury Department Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin can be read here.