United States President Joe Biden made a final decision this week to keep Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps on the US foreign terrorist list, making a path to re-entering the Iran nuclear deal even muddier.
In a statement this week, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett confirmed he had been informed by the US president that IRGC would remain on the terrorist list, and that he agreed with the decision. Israel has long been a vocal opponent of lifting the terrorist label from IRGC.
“I commend the US administration, led by my friend President Joe Biden, on the decision to keep the [IRGC] in their rightful place – on the foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) list, which is where it belongs,” Bennett said in a Tweet on Tuesday.
The Iranian government is less likely to re-enter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which the Trump administration pulled out of in 2017. The JCPOA lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for its transparency and compliance with nuclear arms guidelines, inspections, and restrictions. Trump at the time said the deal was “decaying and rotten” and announced he would reimpose sanctions on Iran, prompting the Iranian government to resume uranium enrichment.
The Biden administration has long promised to negotiate a return to the JCPOA, but one of the final roadblocks remaining in the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group. Iran’s government has said it will not move forward with JCPOA negotiations unless the designation is lifted. The announcement by the White House this week to keep IRGC on the terrorist list will make a return to the JCPOA more complicated.
Naftali, however, praised the move. “President Biden is a true friend of Israel who is committed to its strength and security … This is the right, moral and correct decision by President Biden, who updated me on this decision during our last conversation. For this I thank him.”
The White House has defended the decision, saying the terrorist designation is not technically a part of the JCPOA, and should not be a stumbling block to negotiating its reinstatement.
“The U.S. position has been that unless Iran agrees to take certain steps to assuage security concerns beyond the JCPOA, Washington will not lift the terror designation, which itself is beyond the JCPOA,” a source close to the White House told Politico last month.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: MIDDLEEASTEYE.NET