WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Bush administration is approving exports to Iran of spare parts and other equipment for the country's national airline, despite the standoff with Tehran over its nuclear program.
The State Department cited worries about travel safety in explaining the decision, which will allow the export of items used to repair turbine engines on Airbus aircraft operated by Iran Air.
While Iran supports terrorism and is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, ``the United States is focused on the pressing humanitarian concerns that affect the Iranian people,'' spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement issued late Tuesday.
The Federal Aviation Administration has questioned whether the aircraft are airworthy and recommended immediate overhaul, McCormack said. The State Department and Commerce Department approved a license for the parts Sept. 29, he said.
The Bush administration bans virtually all trade with Iran as a terrorist sponsor.
The decision to grant a license will clear the way for export to Iran of spare and replacement parts and technical data to repair and overhaul a ``limited number'' of engines manufactured in the United States.