Boeing Co. said Tuesday it signed an agreement with IranAir “expressing the airline’s intent” to buy its aircraft, marking the first major deal with an American company of the Islamic Republic following its landmark nuclear deal last year with world powers.
The Chicago-based manufacturer issued a statement to The Associated Press saying that it signed the agreement “under authorizations from the U.S. government following a determination that Iran had met its obligations under the nuclear accord reached last summer.”
“Boeing will continue to follow the lead of the U.S. government with regard to working with Iran’s airlines, and any and all contracts with Iran’s airlines will be contingent upon U.S. government approval,” it said.
Boeing offered no further details on the sale.
IranAir, the country’s national carrier, said this week it wants to buy new generations of the Boeing 737, as well as the 300ER and 900 version of the Boeing 777.
Earlier Tuesday, Iran’s Transportation Minister Abbas Akhoundi said a possible deal between the Islamic Republic and Boeing could be worth as much as $25 billion, on par with the country’s earlier deal with its European rival, Airbus.
Boeing has been cautious about entering Iran’s market as other sanctions remain in place against Tehran. American officials had said as recently as last weekend that the sale would need permission from the U.S. Treasury. It’s unclear what changed in the last few days. Treasury officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
Iranian airlines have some 60 Boeing airplanes in service, but most were purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought Islamists to power.
Out of Iran’s 250 commercial planes, about 150 are flying while the rest are grounded due to lack of spare parts. Parts and servicing remained nearly impossible to get while the world sanctioned Iran over its contested nuclear program.
Included in last year’s nuclear deal is approval for airline manufacturers to enter the Iranian market. However, American lawmakers have warned Boeing not to do business there as the Iran deal remains a hot topic in the ongoing presidential election.
Boeing may need to run the sale through an overseas subsidiary and use a currency other than U.S. dollars in order to avoid running afoul of American laws.