Biden Reportedly Finalized Decision to Keep Terrorist Designation on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards
© AFP 2023 / -A handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency on September 22, 2019 shows President Hassan Rouhani (C) and other top military commanders watching members the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) marching past during the annual "Sacred Defence Week" military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, in the capital Tehran. - Rouhani said on September 22 that the presence of foreign forces creates "insecurity" in the Gulf, after the US ordered the deployment of more troops to the region. "Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region," Rouhani said in a televised speech at the annual military parade, adding that Iran would present to the UN a regional cooperation plan for peace. (Photo by Iranian Presidency / AFP)
© AFP 2023 / -
As negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear deal seemed close earlier this year, Iran said it wanted its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) removed from the US State Department’s list of designated terrorist organizations, which happened in 2019 as part of the same “maximum pressure” policy that saw the US quit the nuclear deal.
US President Joe Biden decided several weeks ago to keep the IRGC on the terrorist list, and informed the Israeli government of his decision at the time, Politico reported on Tuesday, citing people “familiar with the matter.”
Following Politico’s publication of the news, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett confirmed the report in a post on social media.
“In recent months, we have clearly clarified our position - the Revolutionary Guards are the largest terrorist organization in the world, involved in directing and carrying out murderous terrorist acts and undermining stability in the Middle East,” the Israeli government head tweeted.
“This is the right decision of President Biden, which the President updated me on in our last conversation about a month ago, and I congratulate him on that.”
The IRGC was placed on the “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” list in April 2019, nearly a year after then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a 2015 agreement that underpinned a warming of relations between Iran and the West. Trump claimed Iran had been secretly violating the deal and continuing work on building a nuclear weapon, but provided no evidence to support his government’s claims.
A “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran followed, with the US reimposing destructive economic sanctions on Iran, threatening other nations to comply with them, and positioning extensive military forces off the Iranian coast. At the same time, Israel unleashed an espionage campaign that included sabotage and assassinations.
The US campaign against Iran and the IRGC reached its nadir in January 2020, when the US assassinated Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani outside Baghdad, Iraq, with a drone strike. Soleimani, who commanded wide respect across the region due to his leadership in the anti-Daesh* war, was the commander of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force.
In turn, Iran began reducing its commitments under the deal, increasing the purity of uranium it refined and storing larger amounts of it. However, no parallel efforts in weapons development were made, according to Israeli military intelligence, and the purity of refined uranium has remained well below that needed for a viable weapon.
After Biden took office in January, he opened talks to restore the deal, saying he didn’t believe Iranian claims of innocence, but did believe that the JCPOA was the best way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. Those talks seemed to be close to success earlier this year, but have stalled over a few final details, such as how to measure compliance.
In early April, the US State Department also dispelled reports it was considering removing the Quds Force from the list, having been added in 2007.
Earlier this month, a large majority of US senators signed on to a resolution opposing lifting sanctions on the IRGC, as well as to any restoration of the JCPOA that doesn’t also include measures limiting Iran’s alleged support for militia groups in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
However, at the time the IRGC was added to the list in 2019, both the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) dissented, saying it was dangerous and provocative to apply the label to a state entity.
* Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/“Islamic State”) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and other nations