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Iran Press TV

US court lifts ban on Russian rocket engines

Iran Press TV

Mon May 12, 2014 4:40PM GMT

A ban on US aviation companies prohibiting them from buying Russian rocket engines has been lifted after a federal judge ruled the purchases do not violate US sanctions against Russia.

Earlier this year, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) claimed that the US Air Force's plans to buy billions of dollars' worth of rocket engines from its rival United Launch Alliance (ULA) were in violation of sanctions ordered by US President Barack Obama against Russia because ULA provides Russian-made engines.

SpaceX argued that ULA has been buying RD-180 engines from NPO Energomash, Russia's leading developer and manufacturer of liquid propellant, which it claimed is subject to the control of Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

ULA, a joint-venture between US aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing, provides space launch services to US agencies, including the Pentagon, National Reconnaissance Office, and NASA.

However, SpaceX claimed the purchases were in violation of Obama's Executive Order (EO) 13,661 issued on March 20, expanding the list of Russian officials under US sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.

After hearing testimonies from US State, Treasury, and Commerce departments, US Court of Federal Claims Judge Susan Braden lifted the temporary ban that prevented US firms from buying the Russian rocket engines.

Tensions between Moscow and Washington have been escalating over the crisis in Ukraine. US sanctions have so far targeted 45 individuals and 19 entities, including SMP Bank and Bank Rossiya. However, despite repeated threats, the US has not yet announced any sanctions that would target key sectors of the Russian economy.

Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday that Moscow imposed sanctions against more US officials and stressed that Russia's measure was not a publicity stunt.

Earlier this year, a number of high-ranking US officials – including House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, and Sen. John McCain – were placed under sanctions imposed by the Russian government.


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