In order to salvage its landmark nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration most likely concealed intelligence it had that Tehran was using commercial airliners to shuttle fighters into Syria, in violation of international law and rules governing the deal.
In addition to concealing the information so that it could continue pursuing the deal, the Obama administration also hid the intelligence so that multi-billion dollar deals could be pursued between American companies and the Iranian commercial airline sector, according to lawmakers and others familiar with the matter.
The Washington Free Beacon, which initially broke the story revealing Iran’s use of commercial airliners to move fighters into Syria, followed up on that initial report earlier today with these new revelations. The site reported further:
Photographs provided to Congress show Iran using Iran Air to ferry these soldiers between 2016 and 2017, in part when the Obama administration removed sanctions on Iran Air and promoted multi-billion dollars sales between the carrier and aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which is seeking to provide Iran Air with a fleet of new planes that many suspect will be used to carry terrorist fighters and weapons into regional hotspots.
This behavior violates international laws governing the nuclear deal and has now led lawmakers and others to accuse the Obama administration of downplaying Iran’s illicit activity in order to promote the nuclear deal and ensure Tehran receives a new commercial fleet.
Multiple senior Obama administration officials, including former secretary of state John Kerry, traveled the globe to promote trade with Iranian companies, including Iran Air, at the same time Iran was found to be ferrying militants into Syria. Lawmakers and others suspect the Obama administration either hid or downplayed this information in order to preserve the nuclear deal.
“The Obama administration lifted sanctions against Iran Air as a political concession during nuclear negotiations with Iran, not because of any change in its activity,” Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., one of several lawmakers now calling for an investigation, said.
“Iran Air continues to support the Iran-Assad war machine to this day, and the Trump administration must hold the airline accountable and work to stop them,” the lawmaker said.”Iran Air continues to support the Iran-Assad war machine to this day, and the Trump administration must hold the airline accountable and work to stop them,” the lawmaker added.
Why it’s on our radar: While there may be a congressional investigation into these allegations, don’t expect any Obama-era officials to be formally indicted or even charged with any criminal activity. The conduct of American foreign policy is principally handled by the Executive Branch, though Congress does play a role. And foreign policy can be a messy business.
That said, if congressional committees do look into these allegations and find them to be true, it certainly strengthens President Trump’s recent claims that Iran has been “violating the spirit” of the deal and would strengthen his argument for imposing new sanctions on the regime, which would likely preclude any American aircraft companies (Boeing comes to mind) of conducting business with Tehran. Whether Trump would shut Boeing out is another question.
Boeing signed a $16.2 billion deal in December with Iran Air to sell the carrier 80 jets. In April the company signed a $3-6 billion deal with another Iranian carrier, Aseman Airlines, described as the nation’s third largest. Whether Trump would shut Boeing out is another question, but he’s definitely in a predicament. He hates the Iran deal but loves job creation; the Boeing deals would create tens of thousands of jobs. Now he has to decide which is more important.