Potential Boeing Iran sale faces opposition in U.S. Congress

WASHINGTON Two senior Republican House of Representatives lawmakers said on Friday they were concerned that Boeing Co’s reported plans to sell aircraft to Iran could threaten U.S. national security and had requested more information from the company.

“American companies should not be complicit in weaponizing the Iranian Regime,” Representatives Jeb Hensarling and Peter Roskam said in a letter to Boeing released on Friday.

Iran said on Tuesday it had reached an agreement with Boeing for the supply of jetliners, reopening the country’s skies to new U.S. aircraft for the first time in decades under an international nuclear agreement that eased sanctions.

Boeing has not confirmed an aircraft sale agreement.

The company on Tuesday declined to provide detailed comment in response to Western and Middle East sources saying Iran had reached an understanding with the company to acquire over 100 passenger jets.

The nuclear pact reached by Democratic President Barack Obama was opposed by every Republican member of the U.S. Congress. Several questioned the Boeing deal as soon as the news reports came out.

In their letter to Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg, the lawmakers asked for “clarification” of the current state of negotiations.

Their questions included whether Boeing could guarantee that Iran’s government could not convert Boeing passenger aircraft to cargo aircraft and whether it would repossess aircraft if Iran violated the nuclear agreement.

Hensarling is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and Roskam is chairman of the Oversight subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee.

Not every congressional Republican is opposed to a potential U.S. aircraft deal.

Senator Mark Kirk, who represents Illinois, where Boeing is headquartered, said in a hallway interview at the Senate he had mixed feelings about it.

“You want the jobs, but you are worried about what the Iranians are going to do with the aircraft,” Kirk said this week.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Richard Chang)

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