Sanction Law
Your Guide to the Office of Foreign Assets Control

Aircraft Safety in Iran: OFAC is Not (Entirely) in The Way

I have heard from numerous Iranian nationals recently that they believe many of the Iranian civil airplane crashes that have taken place could have been avoided if they Iranians were allowed to import from the U.S., and U.S. persons allowed to export to Iran, civilian aircraft parts. Essentially, they believe U.S. sanctions are to blame for the losses resulting from these crashes.

Well there might be some truth in that, as a U.S. person in order to export articles used for aircraft safety, must obtain a specific license from the United States Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), it is not entirely true. The issuance of such a specific license will authorize the export to Iran of goods, services, and/or technology to insure the safety of civil aviation and safe operation of U.S. origin commercial passenger aircraft. These specific licenses are considered on a case-by-case basis pursuant to 31 C.F.R. 560.528.

However, it is important to note that this provision has been misread from time to time and individuals have attempted to apply for a specific license citing only a need to export certain articles pursuant to this provision for the insuring of civil aviation alone. This is an interpretation that seems possible on the face of the provision. However, OFAC requires that both parts of the provision be met. In other words, it is also a requirement that the goods, services, or technology must also be essential to or exclusive for the operation of U.S. origin commercial passenger aircraft. Failing to meet this requirement would mean the denial of a license request made pursuant to 31 C.F.R. 560.528.

As such, OFAC is not entirely opposed to the exportation of articles intended for the safety of aircraft in Iran, but rather is trying to make sure such exportation pertains to strictly U.S. origin civilian aircraft.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in OFAC litigation. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 at 202-351-6161 or ferrari@ferrari-legal.com.

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