Risky Business
With Trump Ascendant, Airbus and Boeing Place Risky Bets on Iran

The European aircraft company Airbus has followed Boeing in placing a big bet on Iran, finalizing a deal to sell 100 jetliners to Tehran despite the uncertain future of the Iranian nuclear deal. Advocates of the Iran deal are already seizing on the contracts to convince Donald Trump to keep the controversial nuclear accord. The New York Times:

Proponents of the agreements with Boeing and Airbus hope that Mr. Trump, who has described Iran as a leading sponsor of terrorism, will judge the deals by the gains they provide for employment and exports. Boeing has suggested that its planned Iran sales will support tens of thousands of jobs.

“When Boeing and Airbus come forward with these massive deals, with these jobs, these things will have an impact on the U.S. economy,” said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, a Washington-based group that is critical of Iran’s leaders but has called for improved ties and fewer sanctions.

“Trump made a big deal out of saving 1,000 jobs at Carrier in Indiana,” Mr. Parsi said. “It’s reasonable to assume that Trump is sensitive to economic arguments.”

Parsi—never a detached observer in these matters—may think he’s got a winning line on his hands, but we’re not quite so sure it’s that simple. For one, not everything is just about Donald Trump. Congressional Republicans have already tried to derail the Boeing transaction, which was facilitated by crucial approvals from Obama’s Treasury Department. Iran’s recent provocations in threatening the development of nuclear propellers suggest that the deal is already unraveling without Trump’s help, and experts suggest that simply toughening enforcement will expose the Iranians’ violations and effectively end the deal.

And while Trump is not likely to just go along with his party consensus for the sake of comity, he has been unrelentingly critical of the Iran deal on the campaign trail. True, Trump may not kill the deal outright on day one—influential advisors including Senator Bob Corker instead favor a more gradual approach focused on strictly enforcing the deal. But Trump’s anti-Iran stance shows no signs of going away, and a stepped-up enforcement will likely ensure the deal’s demise over time. Like with Russia and trade policy, people trying to read the possibility of a different Iran policy emerging shortly after inauguration day are probably engaging in wishful thinking and no small amount of self-delusion.

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