Iran says Airbus deal still awaiting US green light
TEHRAN - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS photoA $10 billion deal between Iran and European aircraft manufacturer Airbus for 118 aircraft is still pending authorization from the United States, Deputy Transport Minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan told AFP on June 3.
Iran has ordered about 200 planes from three Western manufacturers since nuclear-related sanctions were lifted in mid-January.
However, the Airbus deal still needs approval from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) because more than 10 percent of components in Airbus planes are of American origin.
Western manufacturers were barred for nearly two decades from selling aircraft or equipment and spare parts to Iranian aviation firms.
After the lifting of sanctions, Tehran and Airbus signed a memorandum of understanding for the purchase during a late-January visit to Paris by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
On April 18, French Transport Minister Alain Vidalies announced during a visit to Tehran that U.S. authorization for the deal was imminent.
“We are in a very advanced stage of negotiations since the meetings should be held next week to finalize the decision,” Vidalies said.
Kashan told AFP on June 3 that the MoU with Airbus “is a hire-purchase contract and the money must come from bank financing”.
“We have had discussions with Airbus and finance channels have been identified,” he said.
“Some banks are willing to provide the funding, but Airbus has had delays in obtaining U.S. authorization” to conclude the contract, he said, adding that he hoped this would now be done by the end of June.
Despite the entry into force of the Iran nuclear deal, major international banks, especially in Europe, appear reluctant to do business with the Islamic republic for fear of punitive measures from OFAC.
Airbus sales chief John Leahy was recently quoted by the specialized Aviation Daily website as expressing concerns about the Iran deal.
“We have to have a reliable international banking system” to ensure that the agreement is not endangered, Leahy said.
The issues “need to be sorted out in the next few months, otherwise there will be no deals,” he added, stressing that “banks are very shy” of doing business with Iran.