In two separate initiatives Monday, opponents of removing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard from a US terrorist list urged President Joe Biden not to take such a move.
In one initiative, 70 experts writing to Biden told him that removing the Revolutionary Guard “would threaten American lives, harm Gold Star Families, and empower a terrorist organization sponsoring daily attacks against U.S. interests and allies. The delisting would be strategically shortsighted and dangerous to U.S. national security interests.”
Negotiations that started in Vienna in April last year to restore Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal known as JCPOA came to a halt in March as Tehran reportedly demanded the removal of its Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) from the US Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.
In a second initiative, 14 Republican Senators, led by Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana sent a letter to the White House urging President Biden not to remove the IRGC designation as a terrorist organization that they said is “responsible for hundreds of American deaths.” The Senators also voiced their opposition to a new nuclear deal with Iran that would provide Tehran with billions of dollars of sanctions relief and frozen funds.
“Not only would this removal be wildly misguided, but it would betray our partners and allies in the region—particularly Israel and the Gulf states. These allies and partners already hold concerns that the United States is reducing its regional presence. The enactment of such a deal would provide the Iranian regime access to funds that it would use to destabilize the region through terrorist proxies,” the Senators said.
Opposition to such a move intensified last month with most Congressional Republicans and some Democrats appealing on various occasions to the White House not to consider making a concession.
Last week, signals emerged form the administration that President Biden was opposed to removing the IRGC from the FTO list, but other signs pointed to the possibility that the US might take such a step while keeping the designation of IRGC’s extraterritorial Qods (Quds) Force as a terrorist organization.
In March, 49 Republican Senators issued a statement urging President Biden not to revive the JCPOA without Congressional approval. “The administration has thus far refused to commit to submit a new Iran deal to the Senate for ratification as a treaty, as per its constitutional obligation, or for review under statutory requirements that passed on a bipartisan basis in response to the 2015 deal,” they said.
The 70 experts who wrote to Biden on Monday pointed out that the IRGC “is engaged in active terrorist plots to kill former U.S. government officials,” referring to explicit Iranian threats to kill high-ranking officials of the Trump administration, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Among the signatories were former State Department Special Envoy for Venezuela and Iran Elliot Abrams, Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council, Amb. Paula Dobriansky, former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, former US Senator Joe Lieberman and former US National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane.
The letter concluded by saying, “Mr. President, no deal can be worth giving terrorists a green light to kill Americans, empowering a terrorist organization to harm U.S. interests and allies, or turning our backs on American victims of terrorism. For the sake of our national security, we implore you to maintain the IRGC’s FTO designation.”