The Biden Administration is seriously considering removing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its foreign terrorist blacklist in return for unspecified Iranian assurances, Israeli and US sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
Though Washington had not decided what might be an acceptable commitment from Tehran in exchange for reversing former US President Trump’s 2019 blacklisting of the group, few people have mentioned a public commitment from Iran to de-escalation in the region or other IRGC activities.
Trump’s 2019 designation of the IRGC as an FTO was the first time that a US administration had formally labeled as a terrorist group part of another sovereign government.
In addition to being Iran’s most feared military branch, IRGC is also a powerful political and economic player in Iran that controls a business empire, and elite armed and intelligence forces that, according to Washington, are carrying out a global terrorist campaign.
Since the last summer’s election of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s president, including in the government dozens of Revolutionary Guard commanders, IRGC’s political influence in Iran’s complex power structure has increased significantly.
Dropping the designation, according to multiple sources, is the most vexing issue in the indirect talks on reviving the 2015 deal that was limiting Iran’s nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.
However, even if Biden lifts nuclear sanctions to return to compliance with the deal, criminal penalties could still be imposed on anyone doing business with IRGC-connected individuals or businesses due to the terror designation.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to comment on the possible removing the IRGC from the US terrorism list but everyone’s aware that removing the designation is a political hot potato for Biden that would create an uproar from Republicans and even from several Democrats in the Senate.