As per a source familiar with the matter at hand, the United States is considering removing Iran’s Revolutionary Guards from its foreign terrorist organization blacklist in return for Iranian assurances for reining in its elite force.
According to the source, Washington has yet to make a final decision on what could be an acceptable commitment from Tehran in exchange for such a step, which would mark the reversal of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2019 blacklisting of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and could draw sharp criticism from Republicans.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a powerful faction in Iran that controls a business empire as well as elite armed and intelligence forces that the United States has accused of carrying out a global terrorist campaign.
The source, speaking on the condition of anonymity said, the Biden administration was weighing whether to drop the terrorist designation “in return for some kind of commitment and/or steps by Iran, with respect to regional or other IRGC activities.”
According to multiple sources, dropping the terrorist designation is one of the last issues in reviving the 2015 nuclear deal which limits Iran’s nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.
Last week, an Iranian official said, the removal of the IRGC from the blacklist had been under discussion as far back as June but the issue had become more complicated following the results of the Iranian election where hardliner Ebrahim Raisi became Iran’s president.
As per an Iranian official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the United States had made clear that “they cannot remove it without major concessions from Iran”. This US stand had been rejected by Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani.
Following the elections, the IRGC’s political influence in Iran’s complex power structure has increased. Raisi, who took office in August, has inducted several dozens Revolutionary Guard commanders in his cabinet.
The US push comes at a time when the US is pleading for more crude oil. Reviving the 2015 nuclear deal would allow Iran to sell its oil abroad.