Flight board at Imam Khomeini International Airport in southern Tehran
The US has taken another minuscule step toward easing trade restrictions against Iran, allowing international companies to fly American-made aircraft to the Middle Eastern country.
Iranians are increasingly becoming uneasy about the consequences of a landmark nuclear deal with the West and other countries, which was presumed to put an end to years of sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
However, top Iranian authorities have accused Washington of deception as a series of contradictory signals and ambiguous laws have deterred companies from dealing with Iran.
Faced with Iran's criticism, the US government has taken some perfunctory measures in an effort to dispel increasing qualms about its commitment to the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
On Friday, the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a license allowing US-made planes to have "temporary sojourn" in Iran.
It means international airlines could use US-made planes or planes with US parts in their flights to Iran without being worried about possible punitive action by the American government.
The new decision, however, is more symbolic because international airlines have already been frequently flying US-built aircraft to Iran.
According to Jonathan Epstein, an attorney at Holland & Knight in Washington, the new license would provide greater assurance to aviation companies, especially lessors.
"Technically there was no legal way to fly to Iran, so US lessors tended to say no, or it caused a lot of angst in the US leasing community that these planes were being flown there," Epstein told Reuters.
Friday's announcement resolved some of the ambiguity surrounding such trips, he said. "It was technically not allowed but was akin to speeding," Epstein said.
The permission, however, comes with a number of strings attached.
Under the US Treasury’s requirements, the planes would stay in Iran no longer than 72 hours at a time.
The license also only covers fixed-wing aircraft rather than aircraft like helicopters. Companies further are not allowed to store spare parts in Iran, among other conditions.
Iran Air and Boeing reached a memorandum of agreement in June, under which the US aviation giant would sell a total of 80 aircraft to Iran and help the country lease a further 29 under a $25 billion contract.
However, a groundswell of opposition is building up among pro-Israeli politicians in the US against plans to sell aircraft to Iran.
Earlier this month, the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives approved measures to block the sale of Boeing aircraft to Iran.
Boeing’s European rival Airbus is also awaiting Washington’s approval of an agreement with Tehran over the purchase of 118 planes, worth over $27 billion.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said this month that if Boeing can't sell airplanes to Iran Air, then nobody should be able to.