Proponents of removing the Revolutionary Guard from a US terrorist list argue that the move would have a symbolic value, while for Iran it is a crucial issue.

However, the IRGC is not simply a military organization. It also controls at least one fifth of Iran's economy. Opposition to delisting IRGC is growing in the US Congress, and one Iranian analyst says it could take months before the two sides resolve the issue.

Media reports indicate the United States has suggested it can delist the IRGC but keep its extraterritorial Qods (Quds) Force on the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list. From a chronological perspective, the Qods Force was designated in 2007 and it was the Trump Administration that designated the entire IRGC as a terrorist organization in 2019.

Earlier this week, some 250 Iranian lawmakers called on President Ebrahim Raisi to take a tougher position vis-à-vis the United States while some of them insisted that Iran should do away with the nuclear deal as it has not befitted from it.

Iranian academic and international relations expert Amir Ali Abolfath told Rouydad24 news website in Tehran on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic insists "all of the sanctions imposed on Iran after the 2018 US pull-out from the JCPOA should be lifted no matter they are about nuclear, missile or terrorist activities and the IRGC should be delisted."

He explained that if the United States keeps the Qods Force in the FTO list but delists the IRGC, this means that Washington likes to bring back the clock to pre-2019 period, but currently, Washington's plans are not quite clear.

Iranian commentator Amir Ali Abolfath

Meanwhile, Abolfath said, "The IRGC is active in many areas including the economy. It owns many companies that could be sanctioned if the IRGC remained listed. There are many non-military companies whose board members were former IRGC officers or were linked to it. This means that If the IRGC remains in the FTO list, Iran's economic benefits from the JCPOA will be affected."

He added: "Iran does not insist on the delisting of the Qods Force as it has no economic activity and its commanders usually do not travel abroad [beyond regional counties]. But IRGC owns companies, such as in the telecommunication and shipping sectors…that will be affected by sanctions."

Abolfath also pointed out that any agreement at this point will not last longer than two or three years. If Republicans return to power, they will do away with the deal. This a challenge for Iranian officials who have already been in this position after former president Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said recently that Iran has exchanged messages with the Washington, making it clear that it is important for Iran that the IRGC's dignity and role remain intact as one of the country's most key security and defense organizations.

He continued: "We can never allow ourselves to tell the US side that we can ignore the problem of IRGC [remaining listed]. Like many other discussions between us and the Americans, the IRGC is also a topic of the negotiations."

Abolfath, however, acknowledged that "the subject of the IRGC is one of the main problems in the negotiations and we have reached a disappointing deadlock over the subject. But the situation might change in the coming weeks. At the end, there has to be an agreement, but it could take another 6 months or a year before we get there."

In the meantime, new US sanctions against companies linked to the IRGC such as Parchin Chemical Industries, Pars Bana-ye Sadr and Sina Composite Delijan in early April has made the situation even more complicated.

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