Democrat President Joe Biden’s administration is reportedly considering lifting the Foreign Terrorist Organization designation on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in exchange for a public commitment from Iran that they will play nice in the region.
The move comes as Biden desperately tries to get Iran to reenter a nuclear deal. Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov praised Iranian negotiators earlier this month, saying that Iran “got much more than it could expect.”
“An agreement to restore the 2015 nuclear deal is nearly complete, but Iran’s demand that President Biden reverse Donald Trump’s decision to designate the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is a key remaining sticking point,” Axios reported. “The IRGC is not only Iran’s most feared military branch, it’s also a powerful political and economic player. The terror designation means that even if Biden lifts nuclear sanctions to return to compliance with the deal, criminal penalties could still be imposed on anyone doing business with individuals or businesses connected to the IRGC.”
The report said that Israel was “concerned about the idea, and in particular, the fact that the U.S. didn’t demand specific commitments from Iran not to target the U.S. and its allies in the region.”
No decision has been made yet on the matter as officials claimed that the IRGC would remain on “a separate terror list and subject to numerous sanctions.”
The Biden administration’s handling of nuclear talks with Iran has been the source of much controversy as it has seen numerous U.S. negotiators quit because they said that the administration was being too weak.
“U.S. officials confirmed over the weekend that Richard Nephew, the deputy special envoy for Iran, has left the team. Mr. Nephew, an architect of previous economic sanctions on Iran, had advocated a tougher posture in the current negotiations, and he hasn’t attended the talks in Vienna since early December,” The Wall Street Journal reported in January. “Two other members of the team, which is led by State Department veteran Robert Malley, have stepped back from the talks, the people familiar said, because they also wanted a harder negotiating stance.”
The team has been divided over disagreements on how strictly existing sanctions should be enforced, and at what point it should walk away from the table, as some experts warn that Iran is trying to prolong talks while they continue to work on their nuclear program.
“The divisions come at a pivotal time, with U.S. and European officials warning that only a few weeks remain to rescue the 2015 deal before Iran acquires the know-how and capability to quickly produce enough nuclear fuel for a bomb,” the report added. “Under the agreement, the U.S. lifted most international sanctions on Tehran in exchange for strict but temporary limits on Iran’s nuclear work. The Trump administration exited the agreement, seeing it as insufficient to restrain Iran, and the Biden administration is trying to reverse course.”