US keeping IRGC on terror list, even if it sabotages nuclear deal – report

Keeping the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the list is a “core principle,” a senior administration official told the Washington Post.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The U.S. will keep the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on its formal list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) even if it means no nuclear deal with Iran, a senior administration official told the Washington Post Saturday.

The official put the ball squarely in Iran’s court, saying, “The onus is on Iran as to whether we have a nuclear deal. The president will stick to core principles. The Iranians know our views.”

Those core principles include viewing the terror designation as a separate issue from the nuclear deal.

On Friday, there had seemed to be a little wiggle room when State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter said at a press briefing, “The president shares the chairman’s view that IRGC Quds Forces are terrorists.”

“Out of the 107 Biden administration designations in relation to Iran, 86 have specifically targeted the IRGC-related persons as well as affiliates,” she added.

Porter was referring to a statement made the day before by the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, to the Senate Armed Services Committee. He described the group as “terrorists” and said, “I do not support them being delisted.”

It was not clear why the Quds Force of the group was specified when the entire IRGC is on the list. The Quds Force is the IRGC’s branch responsible for extraterritorial operations, directing and funding the terror activities of proxy organizations like Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.

The demand to delist the IRGC came in February, very late in the negotiations over renewing the 2015 agreement, which had been reported as almost a done deal for several months already.

The Corps is responsible for the murder of hundreds of Americans and thousands of others over recent years, either by acting directly, such as against American bases in Iraq, or by ordering its proxies to act against Americans or their allies in the region.

Those who want to restrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions by signing the deal say that the listing is mainly symbolic, and that there are other ways to curb the organization, although it controls vast sections of the Iranian economy and has its own armed forces on land, sea and air alongside Iran’s official army, navy and air force.

American allies in the Middle East such Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have all strenuously objected to delisting the IRGC ever since the Iranians made the demand.

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“The Revolutionary Guards are behind the attacks on American civilians and soldiers throughout the Middle East, including in the past year. They are the ones behind the plans to assassinate senior American government officials,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said last month in a joint statement that listed many of their malign activities.

Some two weeks ago, more than 80 Congressional Republicans sent Secretary of State Antony Blinken a letter stating their firm opposition to delisting the group, stating that they “are united in strong opposition to any move to legitimize the IRGC’s reckless, destabilizing, and antisemitic actions through the Middle East.”

“It is unconscionable that the United States should fail to exert maximum pressure on an evil and malign organization like the IRGC,” they said.

Several Republicans have also introduced a bill that would block the White House from removing the IRGC from the list without Congressional approval.