TEHRAN: US aerospace giant Boeing and Iran's state-owned carrier Iran Air confirmed Tuesday a tentative deal for the sale of passenger aircraft that could be worth as much as $25 billion.
The agreement, subject to US government approval, would be the largest between a US business and Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
"Boeing confirms the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Iran Air expressing the airline's intent to purchase Boeing commercial passenger airplanes," the Chicago-based company said in an email to AFP.
Boeing pointed out that it had negotiated the MOA under authorizations from the US government following a conclusion that Iran had met its obligations under the nuclear accord reached almost a year ago.
"Boeing will continue to follow the lead of the US government with regards to working with Iran's airlines, and any and all contracts with Iran's airlines will be contingent upon US government approval," the US aircraft maker said.
Boeing did not reveal details of the deal in its statement.
Earlier Tuesday, Iran Air said it had struck an initial deal to buy Boeing 737 and 777 airliners, subject to US government approval.
"If the necessary permissions are obtained from the two sides, a number of Boeing aircraft -- generally from the 737 Next Generation family and the 300ER and 900 models from the 777 series -- will be acquired by Iran Air under a hire-purchase deal," it said.
The order could be valued at $25 billion, a person close to the situation told AFP.
The agreement was signed in the past month after a visit by Boeing representatives to Iran and several rounds of negotiations, Iran Air said on its website.
The head of Iran's civil aviation authority, in a newspaper interview published Sunday, said the agency had reached agreement with Boeing to deliver 100 aircraft to the country's various airlines to renew their ageing fleets.
The deals are subject to approval by the US government, which still imposes a range of sanctions despite last year's landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and the major powers.
Although most international sanctions were lifted when the nuclear agreement took effect in January, Washington still maintains some sanctions against Tehran over its ballistic missile programme and its alleged sponsorship of blacklisted terrorist groups.
It is also not certain that Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will approve the purchase.
"Suppose we modernise our air fleet. Okay, it's a very important and necessary move. But is it the priority?" Khamenei said in a speech last week.
Apart from state-owned Iran Air, private Iranian airlines are expected to seek to purchase Boeing planes.
The Islamic republic has ordered about 200 aircraft from three other Western manufacturers since the nuclear accord took effect.
The biggest deal was in January when Iran reached a memorandum of understanding with European manufacturer Airbus for the purchase of 118 planes.
That agreement is also still pending permission from the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, since more than 10 percent of Airbus components are of American origin.
Iran's civil aviation authority says it needs 400 to 500 aircraft over the next decade to modernise its fleet.