Citing US officials, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Trump’s team is expected to present him with options that include banning sales, imposing stringent conditions that could halt any aircraft deliveries, or slow-walking approvals.
According to the officials and other people familiar with the matter, no options have yet been made to the president and that the administration is also considering letting the sales proceed.
The officials also said that they were unsure what Trump would decide when presented with options.
The Journal wrote that the administration is concerned that “Iranian airlines could use the new jets, or old ones, to ferry weapons and military personnel into Syria.”
“The administration’s position is clear,” the newspaper quoted a White House spokesman as saying. “We will not issue export licenses unless we are convinced the aircraft will be used exclusively for commercial passenger aviation.”
Boeing and its European rival Airbus have agreed to sell almost 300 planes valued at $40 billion to Iranian Airlines.
Last year, Iran signed a deal worth $16.6 billion with Boeing to buy 80 passenger planes, the first of which are scheduled for delivery in 2018.
The deal which supported at least 100,000 US aerospace jobs, according to Boeing, had also been approved by the US government.
A spokesman for the company said, “We are authorized to deliver [aircraft], but we will continue to follow our government’s lead with regards to all of our activities with Iran.”
Airbus has also signed a deal to sell Iran Air 100 aircraft, worth of about $10 billion. Since then it has delivered three jets to Iran Air.
Airbus, based in France, could be restricted by any US ban because of the large US content on its aircraft, the newspaper wrote.
The European company had no comment on the recent report, but losing the deals with Iranian airlines is expected to cause frictions between Europe and the US.
The sales were allowed under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed during the administration of former US President Barack Obama.
The aviation sales, however, are pending approval from the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Those approvals to export planes were granted by the Obama administration. The Treasury hasn’t issued any Iran-related aviation licenses under the current administration.
Under the nuclear deal –signed with Iran, the European Union, Germany, Russia, China and the UK – Iran undertook to apply certain limits to its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The president, who has long been seeking an excuse to take his country out of the Iran deal, accuses Iran of military involvement in Syria and Yemen.
He refused in October to certify that Iran was complying with the accord, but the administration remained a party to the deal. Trump, instead directed his administration “to work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deal’s many serious flaws.”
Before the nuclear deal was reached, European officials have repeatedly complained that Europe took more of a hit from US-led sanctions imposed against Iran because Americans were doing very limited business at that time.
“We were the ones who took all the pain of all the sanctions,” said David O’Sullivan, the European Union’s US ambassador.
“We didn’t do this deal [nuclear deal] in order to get rid of the sanctions. We held the sanctions until we could all agree we had a good deal.”
O’Sullivan also warned the US administration against blowing up the nuclear deal, saying “Nothing should be done that negates that because clearly you cannot expect Iran to stick to the deal if you take away with the left hand what is given on the right hand on the lifting of the sanctions.”