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What's At Stake For Boeing In The Iran Deal


An American business has a big stake in the fate of the Iran nuclear deal. That deal with Iran and several nations allowed the country to conduct more international trade, including some trade with the United States, which is a big deal to Boeing. The aircraft maker signed a deal with Iranian Airways (ph) after the nuclear agreement took effect. Now, with the fate of that deal in doubt, there's a lot at stake for Boeing as it competes against the French company Airbus. Here's NPR's Jackie Northam.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: When the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran was signed in 2015, Boeing was seen as one of the big winners. Most other U.S. firms are still prevented from doing business with the Islamic Republic because of remaining sanctions. But the nuclear deal gave a special nod to aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and its main competitor, Airbus. Boeing quickly signed deals with Iranian airlines for $20 billion. And the first is to be delivered next year. Now the company is in a wait-and-see situation. Gordon Johndroe is a spokesperson for Boeing.

GORDON JOHNDROE: We continue to follow the U.S. government's lead in all our dealings with approved Iranian airlines, and we'll remain in close touch with U.S. regulators for any additional guidance.

NORTHAM: If Trump does not recertify the nuclear agreement, it would throw the ball to Congress, which would have to decide to do nothing or impose new sanctions. But that doesn't mean the Boeing deal will fall apart. Zachary Goldman is with New York University School of Law and worked on Iran sanctions at the Treasury Department. He says there are other options for Boeing.

ZACHARY GOLDMAN: Theoretically, it's possible that if President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal, he could re-issue licenses to Boeing, Airbus and anybody else that relied on a license to do business with Iran. He may find it politically difficult to do so. You can imagine the headlines on Breitbart asking, why are you letting Boeing continue to sell billions of dollars worth of planes to Iran?

NORTHAM: Adam Pilarski, the senior vice president of AVITAS, an aviation consultancy, says Boeing's deal with Iran carries risk but only represents about 10 percent of its annual production.

ADAM PILARSKI: It would have an impact. I'm positive Boeing and workers at Boeing would like it to happen, but it's a not make or break thing.

NORTHAM: It may not be make or break, but Boeing says the Iran deal could support a hundred thousand jobs. Jackie Northam, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF BONOBO'S "KONG") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, geopolitics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.