China Not to Sell Jet­lin­ers to Iran

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BEI­JING (Dis­patches) - A Chi­nese state firm on Wed­nes­day ruled out sell­ing pas­sen­ger planes to Iran to help the Is­lamic Repub­lic re­vive fleet re­newal plans, while a Rus­sian ex­ec­u­tive sug­gested Moscow would be wary of putting its own pro­grams at risk of U.S. retaliation.

The com­ments in sep­a­rate in­ter­views at China’s largest air show un­der­score the chal­lenges Iran faces in rekin­dling plans to im­port planes af­ter the U.S. reim­posed sanc­tions, though IranAir re­it­er­ated on Wed­nes­day it would wel­come of­fers from sup­pli­ers not sub­ject to re­stric­tions on the ex­port of U.S. plane parts.

Deals to buy 200 air­craft from Air­bus, Boe­ing and Eu­ro­pean tur­bo­prop maker ATR have vir­tu­ally all stalled af­ter the United States with­drew from a 2015 nu­clear agree­ment be­tween Tehran and world pow­ers and reim­posed sanc­tions on firms in­clud­ing IranAir.

Iran’s search for other sup­pli­ers was a talk­ing point on the side­lines of Air­show China last week, where China pro­moted its grow­ing air­craft in­dus­try as it looks to break into for­eign mar­kets for planes such as its long-de­layed ARJ21 re­gional jet.

But asked whether Iran had shown in­ter­est in buy­ing Chi­nese air­planes, Zhao Yuerang, gen­eral man­ager of man­u­fac­turer Com­mer­cial Air­craft Cor­po­ra­tion of China (Co­mac), told Reuters: “No, we can­not sell to Iran. Iran is off the ta­ble.”

Pressed on China’s abil­ity to sell the ARJ21 to Iran, he added: “We need to abide by reg­u­la­tions of both coun­tries.” In May, the U.S. Trea­sury’s Of­fice of For­eign As­sets Con­trol (OFAC) re­voked li­censes to sell pas­sen­ger jets to Iran that are re­quired for any plane with more than 10 per cent U.S. parts, re­gard­less of where it is made.

IranAir has said it is look­ing to buy planes from any com­pany not re­quir­ing the U.S. per­mits and may con­sider Rus­sia’s Sukhoi Su­per­jet 100.

Asked at Air­show China in Zhuhai whether Moscow was in talks to sell the Su­per­jet to IranAir, a se­nior of­fi­cial with state hold­ing com­pany Rostec de­clined to com­ment in de­tail.

“This is a sen­si­tive is­sue,” Vik­tor Kladov, Rostec’s di­rec­tor for in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion and re­gional pol­icy, told Reuters. “You un­der­stand why, be­cause we can­not en­dan­ger the whole Su­per­jet pro­gramme,” he added.

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