Exclusive: Testing detente, U.S. firms move to sell jet parts to Iran
By Tim Hepher and Andrea Shalal
(Reuters) - U.S. aerospace companies are seeking permission to sell airliner parts to Iran for the first time in three decades, in a key test of the temporary relief on sanctions given under talks to curtail Iran's nuclear activities.
At least two leading manufacturers, Boeing (BA.N: Quote) and engine maker General Electric (GE)(GE.N: Quote), have applied for export licenses in a six-month window agreed by Iran and six world powers in November, industry officials and other sources familiar with the matter said.
If approved, the sales would be the first acknowledged dealings between U.S. aerospace companies and Iran since the 1979 U.S. hostage crisis led to sanctions that were later broadened during the dispute over Iran's nuclear activities.
Rival European groups, however, have been slower to react because of doubts over the status of the European Union's complex Iranian sanctions legislation and fears of a backlash from the United States, which had warned them not to rush into dealings with Iran.
Other potential obstacles include uncertainty over terms and conditions for exports and the difficulty of finding banks willing to handle the transactions, which must be completed by July 20.
A GE spokesman said his company had been asking since 2004 for permission to provide parts and maintenance for engines for safety reasons, without profiting from the scheme. GE, the world's largest maker of jet engines by sales, refiled its request after the sanctions relief came into force, he added.
"We don't want to make a penny on it. It's entirely for flight safety," Rick Kennedy said, adding that GE would donate any proceeds to charity.
A source familiar with the matter said that Boeing, the world's biggest manufacturer of passenger jets, had also filed a request for permission to export parts to Iran. Continued...