Biden faces growing pressure over nuclear talks, rumored plan to pull Iran’s IRGC from terror list

The Biden administration is playing with fire as it considers lifting the formal terrorism designation on Iran‘s elite military force, former U.S. officials and national security scholars said Friday, warning that American lives will be at greater risk if Washington makes such a concession in a bid to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Biden 

The debate over whether to pull Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the State Department‘s official list of “foreign terrorist organizations” has become a flash point in Vienna, where negotiators from Iran, the U.S., Russia and a handful of other nations are seeking the revival of an Obama-era deal limiting Tehran‘s nuclear program that President Trump repudiated in 2018.

The IRGC — which backs militant groups that routinely target U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, and itself claimed responsibility for a ballistic missile attack in northern Iraq earlier just weeks ago — was put on the terror list in 2019 as the Trump administration was re-imposing sanctions and ratcheting up a “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran.

Beyond the symbolism of declaring that the IRGC is no longer a terrorist threat, critics say that the combination of rescinding the designation while offering Iran relief from economic sanctions would be a financial shot in the arm for the IRGC, considered Iran‘s most potent military force with a special duty to protect the Islamic Republic.

The IRGC, skeptics say, would use its restored access to funds to underwrite its support for militant regional allies such as Hamas and Hezbollah, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, anti-American militias in Iraq, and other extremist outfits.

“The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has been at the center of a strategy … of using terrorism as an instrument of national power,” David Shedd, the former acting director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said Friday at a forum hosted by the  National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a leading group of Iranian exiles fiercely opposed to the regime in Tehran.

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