(Adds Boeing statement, background)
DUBAI/PARIS, April 4 (Reuters) - Iran’s Aseman Airlines has signed a tentative deal to buy at least 30 Boeing 737 MAX jets, in the first new business with the U.S. planemaker since U.S. President Donald Trump took office vowing to take a tougher stance towards Iran.
Owned by Iran’s civil service pension foundation but managed as a private company, Aseman is Iran’s third-largest airline by active fleet size, according to the CAPA consultancy.
Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency said on Tuesday that representatives of Aseman and Boeing had signed an agreement in Tehran covering as many as 60 jets, including options, after a year of negotiations.
Boeing described the deal as a “memorandum of agreement,” a type of transaction that falls short of a binding contract and is subject to government approvals.
It covers concrete plans for Aseman to buy 30 aircraft with options for a further 30, it added.
If completed, the main part of the deal for 30 jets would be worth $3.4 billion at list prices, though airlines typically win discounts of around 50 percent for large deals.
Boeing has already agreed to sell 80 aircraft to flag carrier IranAir under a deal between Tehran and major powers that led last year to the lifting of most sanctions against Iran in return for restrictions on its nuclear technology development activities.
Trump has said he opposes the nuclear sanctions pact, but has not explicitly stated a view on the aircraft deals reached under the accord, which the U.S. aerospace industry says would protect thousands of jobs.
Washington last month imposed separate sanctions on 25 Iranian individuals and entities following a ballistic missile test. Iran retaliated with its own sanctions.
In a statement on the latest deal, Boeing cited U.S. Department of Commerce data suggesting an “aerospace sale of this magnitude creates or sustains approximately 18,000 jobs in the United States”.
Deliveries to Aseman would start in 2022.
Boeing must now apply for licences from the U.S. Treasury allowing it to proceed with the sale.
“Boeing continues to follow the lead of the U.S. government with regards to working with Iran’s airlines and any and all contracts with Iran’s airlines are contingent upon U.S. government approval,” it said.
The latest deal comes as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s government seeks to highlight improvements resulting from the nuclear deal in the run-up to May presidential elections. So far IranAir has received three new Airbus jets under the deal.
In December the European Union banned Aseman from flying to the EU due to safety concerns, highlighting gaps in the country’s ageing fleet following the decades of sanctions. (Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh in Dubai and Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Greg Mahlich)