With a deal deadlocked over IRGC blacklist issue, U.S. holds off on counter proposal

The Biden administration has apparently decided not to send a counter proposal to Iran containing ideas for how to close the final outstanding issues to restore nuclear pact.

Asked about this, a senior US administration official deflected, saying they won’t negotiate in public.

“The President has made clear he’ll do what’s in the best interest of U.S. security,” the senior administration official, speaking not for attribution, told me today (April 15). “And the onus here is really on Iran at this stage, particularly on this issue.”

After a year of negotiations, a draft deal on restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear pact is basically done, but the US and Iran are deadlocked on a non-nuclear issue:  An Iranian request that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) be removed from the State Department’s foreign terror organization (FTO) blacklist.

While last week the U.S. had been expected to send a response to an Iranian proposal brought to Washington by European Union coordinator Enrique Mora late last month, I reported last week (April 8) that the EU was still waiting for the US counterproposal.  Since then, the White House has apparently decided not to offer a response.

“The political space for offering a counter-proposal has shrunk significantly in the past few weeks,” Ali Vaez, director of the Iran program at the International Crisis Group, told me today.

“That means that Iran would either get a deal with the IRGC remaining on the FTO list, or no deal,” Vaez continued. “I also think it is highly unlikely that Iran will surrender on this issue.”

“I think it is the political side of the administration that is reluctant to pay the price and is not fully aware of the medium term political and long term strategic costs of allowing the deal to collapse,” a source close to the talks said.

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