Iran Deal Hangs on Terrorist Group Designation (Donfiore/Dreamstime)
By Eric Mack | Thursday, 28 April 2022 10:19 PM
Talks for a new Iran nuclear deal have stalled, sending it to the state of improbability now, over Iran's insistence the Biden administration drop the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Former President Donald Trump had designated the IRGC a state sponsor of terror in 2019 and the Biden administration is balking at removing the Iranian military branch from the terror list because the designation is outside the original terms of the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), according to Politico.
"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, especially given ongoing threats by the IRGC against [Americans]," a U.S. official told Politico.
Amid bipartisan opposition to the U.S. making concessions in a new JCPOA, "the Biden administration is highly unlikely at this point to drop the designation in the context of the JCPOA talks," the source added.
Both Iran and the U.S. consider the terror designation a deal-breaker, and Iranian Americans for Liberty (IAL) Executive Director Bryan Leib told Newsmax in a statement Thursday night this should have stopped talks before they started.
"It should come as no surprise to the American people that diplomacy with the world's leading fiscal sponsor of terrorism has failed," Leib's statement read. "The Islamic Regime in Tehran are not partners for peace for the United States, Israel, or our Arab allies in the Middle East.
"The regime has threatened to kill former President Donald Trump, former Secretary Mike Pompeo and many other former and current U.S. officials. The time is now for Joe Biden to pivot back to a maximum pressure and maximum sanctions campaign against the Mullahs in Tehran."
A draft 27-page agreement had been readied, but now a deal is a long shot, according to Politico.
In addition to the hang-up on the terror designation, Russia had sought in negotiations to receive sanctions relief from any business deals with Iran.
"U.S. administration needs to have the courage to correct the past wrong policies of the White House," the Iranian foreign minister had said, according to Politico. "There is no doubt in the will of Iranian government to reach a good, strong durable agreement."
Democrats are joining the conservative chorus of warning President Joe Biden against bending to Iran's wishes on the terror designation.
"Let me be clear: The IRGC is a terrorist organization," Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., wrote in a recent letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. "We must not be short-sighted in the use of sanctions relief to mitigate our present energy challenges."
The Arms Control Association director of nonproliferation policy Kelsey Davenport warns failure to secure a new Iran nuclear deal will escalate the arms risk and endanger the world.
"If prospects to restore the JCPOA collapse, the nuclear crisis will escalate and the risk of conflict dramatically increases," Davenport told Politico. "Restoring the nuclear deal is the only good option for staving off a nuclear crisis.
"While talks remain stalled, Iran's nuclear program continues to grow unchecked. Tehran is steadily moving closer to the point where a dash to produce nuclear material for a bomb could go undetected by international inspectors."
A senior western official is lamenting the deal-breaking terror designation stance from both Iran and the U.S.
"I can tell you that people who invested themselves heavily in this negotiation are frustrated because a very good agreement that benefits all the parties, as well as the nonproliferation architecture, is being taken hostage to bilateral questions that have nothing to do with the JCPOA or nuclear issues," the official who took part in the talks told Politico.
Russia, as it was waging war in Ukraine, was leading talks with Iran, along with diplomats from China, France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S., according to Politico.