Why do Iran’s Conservatives Oppose Deals with Boeing, Hyundai?

By Changiz M. Varzi for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

Iran’s national carrier Iran Air and US aircraft manufacturer Boeing signed a $16.6 billion deal for the sale of 80 passenger jets Dec. 11, despite strong opposition from the US House of Representatives. However, right-wing Americans have not been the only opponents of the deal; conservative Iranians have also voiced their objections against buying aircraft from the United States.

The deal was made possible by a Sept. 21 authorization from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. The two companies’ agreements are a result of the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which lifted nuclear-related sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

With the goal of renewing its aging fleet, Iran will import Boeing airplanes, including 50 narrow-body 737 MAX aircraft and 30 long-haul 777s. Boeing said that deliveries will begin in 2018.

While Reformist outlets in Iran hailed the agreement to purchase a fleet of passenger jets from the United States, conservative media denounced the deal. On Dec. 12, Iranian media supporting President Hassan Rouhani celebrated the agreement on their front pages with headlines such as “Boeing’s historical landing in Iran,” “Spell on Iran-US economic relations removed,” “Flight of Boeing over wall of sanctions” and “Boeing in Tehran hangar.”

Meanwhile, Sobh-e No, a daily close to the Principlists, highlighted a Boeing statement that stressed the deal “will support tens of thousands of US jobs directly associated with production and delivery of the 777-300ERs and nearly 100,000 US jobs in the US.” Sobh-e No covered the agreement under the headline “A deal to create 100,000 jobs in US.”

The semi-official Fars News Agency also reported on criticism of the deal by Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi, the cultural deputy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). According to Fars, Naghdi said, “They [the Rouhani administration] had promised to force the US to return the $2 billion they owe us [as part of Iran’s frozen assets in the US], but now they have poured another $16 billion in their [Americans’] mouths.”

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