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Urging Boeing Not to Sell Airplanes to Iran

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROSKAM. Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned about some news that has come to my attention and to the attention of the House recently, and that is that there is an iconic American aviation company--that is, the Boeing Company--that that has entered into preliminary talks with Iran. And the thinking is for Boeing to sell planes to Iran.

I guess when you first hear about that, you say: Well, what is the big deal? Why is everybody so uptight about this? Why can't everybody relax and just let some commerce happen?

Here is what is the big deal; here is why we ought not relax; and here is why Boeing shouldn't be in these discussions; and, ultimately, it is my sincere hope, Mr. Speaker, that Boeing does not sell planes to the Iranians:

The entire Washington foreign policy establishment; that is, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the United States State Department, and the administration all agree on one thing. They all agree that Iran is still the world's leading state sponsor of terror.

There is no credible organization; there is no credible voice today that says: No, no, no. That is not true anymore. In fact, the President has acknowledged this; the Secretary of State has acknowledged this; the national security adviser has acknowledged this.

And if that is true--and it is true--how can someone, how can a company, how can an American institution say, we are going to do business with them? And how can it be true that we are going to sell something that can be easily converted for the use of terrorism?

You see, planes are fungible. Airplane parts are fungible. Unless we think that only Boeing is beginning these sorts of discussions--we know what Airbus is doing. Airbus has made a decision to go in and do business with this terrorist regime.

Why I am urging these companies--and particularly Boeing, as an iconic American company, as a company that has come to symbolize what? American strength, American innovation, and American greatness. And then to be complicit with the Iranians and the sheer possibility and, I would argue, probability that those airplanes will be converted to warplanes.

Now, just so I am clear, I am not making an argument nor a suggestion today that Boeing is doing anything illegal. I am not making that argument.

But here is my point: just because something is legal doesn't make it good; just because something is legal doesn't make it right.

There are some people who are saying: Well, look, other manufacturers are selling into that marketplace. And let me ask you this, Mr. Speaker. When has history ever been kind to the excuse: Well, somebody else was doing it, so I decided to do it too? History, Mr. Speaker, is a merciless judge and disciplinarian against that sort of argument.

So what is the problem? Here is the problem. It is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that completely dominates the Iranian economy, and they certainly completely dominate the aviation sector of the economy. Iran Air was recently taken off the terrorist watch list by the State Department. Most people think that it was an agreement through the Iran nuclear deal and that it wasn't really deserved, but they were only recently on it. Regardless, the fungibility of these products can easily move into other areas of the sector.

There are some people that say: Look, it is an emerging market and we ought to be selling American products there. No, Mr. Speaker. What we ought to do is recognize that there are things that are more important than American profits, and that is the integrity of American businesses not to be complicit in this shameful activity and to sort of draw a blind eye towards this activity to say we can somehow sell these products and they won't end up in the hands of terrorists. It is naive, it is a wrongheaded move, and I urge Boeing in the strongest possible terms not to be complicit in this activity.


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