WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Boeing Co, the world's biggest airplane maker, on Friday said it had received a licence from the US Treasury Department to export certain spare parts for commercial aircraft to Iran under a temporary sanctions relief deal that began in January.
A Boeing spokesman said the company received the licence this week and would now contact officials in Iran to determine which parts were needed.
He said the licence covered only components needed to ensure continued safe flight operations of older Boeing planes sold to Iran before the 1979 revolution, and did not allow any discussions about sales of new aircraft to Iran.
"It's very limited," said the spokesman.
The sales would be the first acknowledged dealings between US aerospace companies and Iran since the 1979 US hostage crisis led to US sanctions that were later broadened during the dispute over Iran's nuclear activities.
Reuters reported in February that both Boeing and enginemaker General Electric Co had applied for permission to export aircraft parts to Iran during a six-month wind down agreed by Iran and six world powers in November.
Iran agreed in November to curtail its nuclear activities for six months from Jan. 20 in exchange for sanctions relief from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. The deal provides for the sale of parts to flag carrier Iranair, the fleet of which includes vintage Boeing and Airbus jetliners delivered as long ago as 1978.
No comment was immediately available from General Electric about the status of its application with the US Treasury, which enforces international sanctions.
A Treasury spokesperson said the department does not comment on licence applications or requests.
Iran says the sanctions have prevented it from renewing its fleet, forcing it to use sub-standard Russian aircraft and to patch up jets that have long since exceed their normal years of service. Since 1990 it has had more than 200 accidents, causing more than 2,000 deaths, according to official news agency IRNA.
Boeing said the licence was granted under the temporary sanctions relief deal, and was aimed at helping improve the safety of Iran's aircraft.
"We take the safety of flight issue very seriously," said the spokesman. He had no immediate details on how many parts would be sold to Iran, or their potential value.
Analysts say the sales could help American companies position themselves for potential sales of new aircraft if a broader softening of sanctions is agreed.
A senior Iranian official told Reuters in November that Iran could require between 250 and 400 jets if and when sanctions are lifted completely.