President Biden has made a final decision to keep Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) designated as a “foreign terrorist organization,” Politico reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed Western official.
The decision means a revival of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, is unlikely. The terrorist blacklist is a sweeping designation that means any current or former IRGC member is subject to US sanctions, and Iran wanted it lifted before the restoration of the JCPOA.
But the Biden administration claims the IRGC designation is separate from JCPOA-related sanctions even though it was implemented in 2019 as part of the Trump administration’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign. The US wanted security-related concessions out of Iran in exchange for the lifting of the designations.
Another source told Politico that Biden made his decision on the IRGC designation known to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in an April 24 phone call. Bennett appeared to confirm Biden’s stance in a tweet he wrote on Tuesday.
“I welcome the decision by the US Administration to keep Iran’s IRGC on the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list — which is where it belongs,” Bennet wrote. He thanks Biden for the decision and for “being a true friend of the State of Israel.”
Over the weekend, an IRGC colonel was gunned down in the heart of Tehran. No one has taken responsibility for the killing, but Israel is suspected due to its history of targeted killings inside Iran. IRGC officials have made it clear that they believe Israel was behind the assassination, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has vowed Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei would be “avenged.”
The Biden administration has been coordinating closely with Israel on Iran and a potential JCPOA revival. Israeli officials have been outspoken in their opposition to the agreement, although Israeli intelligence sources told The Jerusalem Post this week that no deal with Iran is worse than a bad one.