Iran's hardliners say the impasse in nuclear talks results from President Joe Biden's “weakness”, not its demand for delisting the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
Recent commentaries in hardline media reflect growing concerns among hardliners that Iranians would blame the IRGC for the failure to secure a deal to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement, and the lifting of sanctions, which increasingly impose hardships on ordinary people.
An unattributed commentary Wednesday in Tasnim news agency which is linked to the IRGC clearly indicated that Iran wants the IRGC to be removed from the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) but claimed that this was the only "one of the remaining issues" on which the US side had to make a final decision.
The commentary accused the US negotiators of trying to exaggerate the importance of delisting of the IRGC to divert Iranian public opinion from the "real matter of contention".
"Limiting the causes of the halt in the talks to the removal of the IRGC from the FTO is the US negotiating team's psychological operation to put pressure on decision-making entities in our country," Tasnim wrote. The real issue, it said, is "Iran benefiting economically from a deal" if sanctions on "effectual individuals, entities, and companies in [Washington's] red list" are lifted.
The IRGC was designated under Donald Trump in April 2019. This was the first time that the US put another country's military on its terror list.
The government mouthpiece, Iran newspaper, also ran a commentary Wednesday in which it argued, indirectly, that the IRGC was not to blame for the continuation of sanctions that many Iranians see as a major contributor to their economic hardships.
"The main issue [preventing a deal] is the US administration's lack of confidence in making important decisions", the commentary entitled "Biden's Weak Administration the Main Cause of Not Reaching an Agreement in Vienna" said, conspicuously failing to mention the IRGC's name even once.
Instead, the writer of the commentary, Mehdi Poursafa, who often contributes to IRGC-linked media outlets such as Javan newspaper and Fars news agency, accused the Biden administration of lacking courage to bypass the opposition from the "Zionist regime and the Israeli-Arab lobby in Washington" despite having "the required political capacity to approve an agreement with Iran".
Poursafa opined that the Biden administration would not make a deal before the November Congressional elections. "But Iran can't remain indifferent to this matter. Tehran surely does not want to pay the price for the domestic problems of the Biden administration and will make its next move based on the US administration's behavior and commensurate to its own national interests," he said.
The Biden administration has come under pressure not only from Republicans, but also from some key Democrats who insist that the IRGC should remain of the FTO list. So far 49 Republican Senators have called on Biden not to make concessions to Iran.
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin who was one of the four Democrats to vote against the Iran nuclear deal under Barack Obama in 2015 in a letter to the Secretary of State Antony Blinken Tuesday said he supported Biden's 'diplomacy' with Iran but warned that sanctions should remain in place until Iran demonstrates "verifiable efforts towards curbing their malign influence".