The U.S. is considering removing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard from its blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations in exchange for guarantees to sustain Iran’s elite force, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
The source said Washington had not decided what Tehran’s acceptable commitment could be in return for the move, which would push back the group’s 2019 blacklist of former US President Donald Trump and provoke harsh criticism from Republicans.
This was the first time Washington had labeled part of another sovereign government a terrorist group.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a powerful faction in Iran that controls a business empire that accuses Washington of waging a global terrorist campaign, as well as controlling armed elites and intelligence forces.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Biden administration was considering whether to withdraw the terrorist designation “in exchange for some commitment and / or steps by Iran in relation to regional or IRGC activities.”
Axis reported for the first time that the Biden administration had considered the deal, citing Israeli and US sources.
Many sources have said that the removal of the nomination is one of the latest and most worrying issues in the broader indirect talks that stimulated Iran’s 2015 nuclear program, which limited its nuclear program.
Asked about the possibility of removing the IRGC from the U.S. terrorism list, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to say whether it was to ease sanctions in the midst of negotiations to revive the nuclear deal.
An Iranian official said last week that the removal of the IRGC from the blacklist was being discussed until June, but that the issue was complicated by the election of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi last summer.
An Iranian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the US had made it clear that “they cannot remove Iran without major concessions”, an attitude which he said had been rejected by Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani.
The political influence of the IRGC on Iran’s complex power structure has increased since Raisi was elected, took office in August, and his government includes dozens of Revolutionary Guard commanders.
Raisi’s election led to a five-month hiatus in the U.S.-Iran indirect talks on reviving the nuclear deal, which Trump suspended in 2018 and reinstated in US sanctions, prompting Iran to begin violating its nuclear borders about a year later.
Negotiations resumed in late November, with officials from other parties to the agreement – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – as well as coordinating talks between EU and Iranian representatives with European Union authorities. An agreement would allow Iran to sell its oil abroad.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a union feed.)