IRAN AIR Boeing 747 311 .
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A Chicago federal court has asked President Donald Trump to decide if US aerospace giant Boeing must disclose details of a controversial transaction with Iran, after an Israeli legal rights NGO warned that it will place liens on any planes slated for the country if the company goes through with an announced sale.
In July, Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center, which represents families of victims of Iranian- sponsored terrorism who are due billions in unsatisfied US court judgments, said Iran must first satisfy its debts before it can purchase the planes.
The court’s move comes after a family of victims sought to enforce its judgment against Iranian assets after winning a settlement against the rogue nation in US federal court.
Iran does not have reachable assets in the US, but as a result of 2015’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (also known as the “Iran Deal” or JCPOA ) entered into by the Obama administration, Iran is in the process of purchasing billions of dollars of aircraft from Boeing.
Following the Iran Deal, a motion was filed by the Leibovitch family – which holds an unpaid $67 million judgment against Iran relating to a 2003 terrorist attack in which their seven-year-old child was killed and other family members severely wounded – to freeze any assets owned by Iran that might be in Boeing’s possession.
Boeing has claimed that disclosing details of the Iranian purchase will “interfere with US foreign policy toward Iran by obstructing a key component of the international nuclear deal.”
However, earlier this month, US District Chief Judge Ruben Castillo, for the Northern District of Illinois, ordered the Trump administration to file a statement by October 12 informing the court whether or not the government agrees that revealing details of the Boeing deal will interfere with US foreign policy toward Iran.
Boeing has fought vigorously to keep the details of its agreements with Iran secret. Even its arguments about whether the details of the transactions should be revealed have been filed with the court under seal, preventing public inspection.
The Leibovitch family is represented by US attorney Robert J. Tolchin and Israeli attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.
The $67m. judgment awarded to the Leibovitch family stated that Iran was liable for funding Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran has yet to pay anything.
Following the Iran deal – which permitted certain US companies to engage in business with Iran – Boeing entered into a $16.6 billion contract to sell 80 airplanes to Iran Air, which is 60% owned by the Iranian government.
Attorneys for the Leibovitch family served Boeing with an Illinois Citation to Discover Assets to determine if there are any assets held by, or on behalf of, Iran – including rights to acquire such property in the future that could be used to satisfy the family’s judgment.
In a concerted effort to conceal details of its dealings with Iran, Boeing has claimed to the court that disclosing the details of its transactions with the country to enable the court to assess whether or not the Leibovitch family can reach any Iranian assets would cause “grievous damage” to US national security by “disrupting the JCPOA .”
In response, Castillo requested a statement from the US government as to whether it contends that providing details of the Boeing transaction will, in fact, obstruct key components of the Iran nuclear deal.
According to Darshan-Leitner, who is president of Shurat Hadin, Boeing “has raised every possible argument to conceal the terms of its deal with the terrorist state of Iran.
“Rather than just litigate the matter on its merits, and admit it has no moral dilemma doing business with a rogue regime that is responsible for so much innocent blood, it has gone on the attack against the family of the terror victims and their attorneys,” she said. “The terror victims have the right to seize all property belonging to Iran. Tehran is the preeminent cause of international terrorism today, and no publicly traded US company should agree to provide it with airplanes that are being directly used to perpetrate extremist violence.”
Darshan-Leitner called on Boeing’s leadership and stockholders “to assist the American terror victims to pursue justice, not serve as apologists for those that devastated their lives.”