Not satisfied with the latest round of harsh sanctions signed into law this July, Rep. Brad Sherman is circulating new legislation to ramp up economic restrictions on Iran, this time taking aim at its civilian aircraft. Amongst the proposed bill’s various provisions, Sherman calls for a ban on the export of civilian aircraft parts to Iran. Iran already has one of the poorest flight records in the world because of sanctions – at least 14 fatal crashes reported since 2000- but that doesn’t seem to bother Sherman. He states
Current law provides for special licensing of aircraft repair and servicing of U.S. origin aircraft owned by Iran. In July, Iran Air was denied access to EU airspace because its old Boeing and some Airbus aircraft are unsafe for air travel. Those planes should remain grounded until the nuclear crisis is resolved.
Just how prohibiting the free travel of Iranian citizens or endangering them in their attempts to do so is supporting the diplomatic process is unclear. However, the disastrous consequences that sanctions have for regular Iranians are perfectly clear. Such was the case for Caspian Airways Flight 7908,
which in July of 2009 killed 168 people by virtually disintegrating upon impact:
The crash underscored what civil-aviation experts consider the dilapidated state of Iran’s fleet of aircraft and an air-transport industry under severe international sanctions that prevent it from purchasing Western-made Boeing or Airbus aircraft.
While the sanctions passed in June excluded such restrictions, Sherman’s bill would reinstate them. However, one can hardly expect Sherman to be moved by such tragedies, as he himself states in his recent piece in The Hill:
Critics also argued that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.
Perhaps, if we intend to further alienate the Iranian people, lend credibility to the anti-western rhetoric of hardliners and extinguish any possibility for constructive engagement. Especially when, as was the case with Flight 7908, by “hurt” you mean, “kill”.