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After nuke deal, Rouhani says Iran could soon buy new planes

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    Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the nation in a televised speech after a nuclear agreement was announced in Vienna, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. After long, fractious negotiations, world powers and Iran struck a historic deal Tuesday to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions - an agreement aimed at averting the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and another U.S. military intervention in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

TEHRAN, Iran >> Iran’s president has pointed to another possible windfall from the nuclear deal with world powers — his country may soon be able to buy badly needed new planes for its aging fleet, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Hassan Rouhani said Iranian negotiators came away from the talks in Vienna with “achievements beyond the nuclear” agreement and succeeded in having “aviation sanctions removed.” His remarks were carried by the official IRNA news agency late Wednesday.

The landmark deal, struck Tuesday between Iran and six world powers after marathon negotiations in the Austrian capital, is meant to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability, in exchange for sanctions relief. According to the deal, key economic sanctions — such as those on Iranian energy and financial sectors — would be lifted once Iran implements the restrictions on its nuclear program.

International and specifically U.S. sanctions have prohibited the sale of Western planes and some spare parts to Iran, making it impossible for Iran to buy new planes and difficult to keep the aging Boeings and Airbuses it does use safely flying. The last time Iran bought new aircraft directly from a Western company was in the early 1990s from the Dutch manufacturer Fokker, which later went bankrupt.

Beyond referring to the removal of “aviation sanctions,” Rouhani did not elaborate but Iran’s Transportation Minister Abbas Akhoundi has said there have been talks with Boeing and Airbus and that initial agreements will likely come in a few months’ time.

“We will provide new aircraft for Iran,” Akhoundi said.

Last month at the Paris Air Show, Akhoundi said Iran was prepared to spend about $20 billion to purchase about 400 new planes over the next decade.

During the sanctions regime, Iran tried to circumvent the measures by buying second-hand civilian aircraft from third companies and managed to keep its national carrier and other airlines going by renting aircraft from others.

In May, the U.S. Treasury said it was imposing punitive actions on an Iraqi and a UAE company that helped Iran buy second-hand aircraft. Tehran had earlier announced that it obtained several younger planes to rejuvenate its civil aviation.

In 2013, it however allowed Boeing and General Electric to provide limited amount of spare parts for engines of U.S.-made planes that were in service in Iran since the 1970s.

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