Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ US blacklist prevents Iran from reopening nuclear deal IRGC News

Washington DC – After optimism over the possibility of renewing the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year, there were no further talks on the calendar and with Washington focusing on Ukraine, the task of the deal was again in balance.

Attempts to renew the agreement were halted after the United States recognized Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a “foreign terrorist organization” and US officials met Tehran’s demands to remove the group from the blacklist. Did not want to do so. Agreement.

The 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saw Iran abandon its nuclear program in exchange for lifting international sanctions on its economy.

Former US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018 and launched a campaign of “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iran. In return, the Iranian government began to expand its nuclear program beyond the limits set by the JCPOA.

President Joe Biden and his top aides said they were committed to renewing the agreement by mutual consent, but warned that time would pass. Here, Al Jazeera looks at the status quo – and US analysts say it has stopped coming back to the deal.

What is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps?

After the 1979 revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, founded the IRGC as a branch of the Iranian military.

It was an ideologically driven force that was loyal to the revolution and formed a new government after the overthrow of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Shortly after its inception, the IRGC played a key role in the Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988.

The force now serves as part of the military, with soldiers enlisted to meet the nation’s mandatory military service requirements. But the group defends its interests and projects inside and outside Iran – ultimately answering Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which oversees the group’s external activities, criticizes Iran’s regional policy of supporting various paramilitary groups in the Middle East.

“The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a political system has really penetrated into the heart of the Islamic Republic,” said Sina Tusi, an Iranian-American political analyst. “It is an army of paramount importance with the defense of the Islamic Republic, designed from the very beginning to distinguish itself from the Iranian military.”

Why did America blacklist this force?

The Trump administration has included the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the US State Department’s list of “foreign terrorist organizations” (FTOs) as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign after the nuclear deal.

“This is the first time that the United States has appointed a FTO as part of another government,” said Mike Pompeo, the then Secretary of State.

“Work [this] This is because the Iranian regime uses terrorism as a statecraft tool, which is fundamentally different from other governments. This historic move would cost the world’s leading terrorist state sponsor the financial means to spread suffering and death around the world. ,

“Actually, the title doesn’t do you much good,” Anthony Blinken said of the IRGC blacklist. [File: Bonnie Cash/Pool via Reuters]

What does the status of the FTO do?

Not much, analysts and officials said. As the IRGC leadership is subject to other “terrorism” and human rights-related sanctions, FTO status has not fundamentally changed the way the Revolutionary Guard operates.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told lawmakers last month that blacklisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps would have little effect on the group. “Of course, this position will not really benefit you because there are countless other limitations on IRGC,” Blinken said.

He explained that the “terrorism” label imposed a travel ban on members of the Guard, many of whom were included in the organization and as part of their military service, but that “really bad people are coming here.” Intent. We have to travel anyway. “

Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, said the Washington-based think tank was “unnecessary and symbolic.”

“The IRGC is subject to many other restrictions and no one will trade with them,” Slavin told Al Jazeera.

So, why did Iran insist on tearing down the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps?

Alex Vatanka, Iran’s program director at the Middle East Institute in another think tank in the US capital, explained several factors that make the label “terrorism” a major issue for the IRGC:

  • Fame: “I do not like to call them terrorists. It is not good to hang around his neck internationally.
  • Iranian politics: “It also weakens them in Iran’s brutal politics.
  • Accused of murder: They believe it is a green light or empty trial for the US to assassinate someone from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps High Command; If they were on the terrorist list, there could be more US killings [Quds Force commander] Qasim Suleimani is back in 2020. ,
  • Financial Benefits: “Hundreds of companies in Iran are affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. So removing them from the terrorist list will only help their business operations and their ability to make money. “

For his part, he said the removal of the Slavin Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was also important for Iran’s draft president, Ibrahim Raisi, who has not achieved anything significant since he took office last year.

“It is internal politics, not external politics. Rice is not popular … so they want to say, ‘Look, we’re got this from the Americans,’ “she said.

What’s stopping Biden from leaving the group?

In practice, nothing. Just as Pompeo appointed the Trump-led Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Biden may ask Blinken to reverse the move. A recent example is; At the beginning of the Biden presidency, the US overturned a Trump-era decision to add Yemeni Houthi rebels to the FTO list.

Slavin, however, said the issue was “politically sensitive” to Biden.

The U.S. president has faced growing pressure from lawmakers and others against his return to the nuclear deal, and the subsidy to the IRGC has angered Congress hawks, including some Democrats. The Quds force and its allies have been accused of targeting US forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.

Last week, the US Senate voted 62 to 33 to approve a non-binding amendment against the removal of the IRGC; The resolution was passed by 16 members of the Biden Democrats, along with Republicans.

However he acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat Biden’s political pact. “I don’t think Biden was really involved in the same way [Barack] Obama is. If there is any political angle to it, I think he will go back around him, ”he told Al Jazeera.

Wanto said Biden could approve and accept the deal despite fears of softening its grip on Iran, as foreign policy does not prioritize voters for the crucial midterm elections in November.

What has America said so far?

Top Biden aides say they are committed to reviving the JCPOA based on mutual consent, despite the IRGC stalemate. US officials are reluctant to divulge details of indirect talks with Iran in Vienna, but Blinken said the Guard’s “terrorist” status was outside the nuclear deal and only required concessions from Iran.

“Despite the nuclear talks – as far as the FTO is concerned – it requires Iran to take and maintain some action,” he told lawmakers last week without specifying specific actions.

So, for now, it looks like Washington is seriously refusing to remove the IRGC for the deal. The JCPOA deals only with Iran’s nuclear program and US-led nuclear sanctions.

But some diplomatic supporters say the blacklisting of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is part of Trump’s “maximum pressure campaign” – making it harder for the JCPOA to back down.

“If the US really wants to flip the page with Iran and pursue a policy of constantly engaging in these maximum pressures, this status will become a major issue because for the Iranians it goes to the heart of the legitimacy of their system.” Said the analyst.

What happens next?

With EU coordinator Enrique Mora recently visiting Washington and Tehran, European mediators are battling the problem as nuclear talks are on the ice.

The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani also met this week in Tehran with Lesi and Khamenei to help resolve the stalemate.

EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borel said on Friday that Iran’s response to Mora’s push to renew the agreement was “enough” and that “these issues will not be resolved overnight.” But a State Department spokesman told AFP the same day that renewing the agreement was “not certain yet”.

Washington has been warning for months that the non-proliferation benefits of the deal could be muted as Tehran gains irreversible nuclear technology. The U.S. State Department recently said we are not there yet.

Vantaka and Tosi both suggested a possible solution to the stalemate: placing the Quds Force on the FTO list, removing the widespread “terrorist” label on the IRGC.

Tossi said the Treasury Department recognized the Quds Force as a “specially designated global terrorist” in 2007, so placing it on the State Department’s FTO would not make a big difference to Trump’s position.

Slavin said another way to resolve the IRGC situation was through further negotiations after the agreement was renegotiated.

“Iranians can agree and Americans can agree, and they will discuss this in subsequent negotiations, which, obviously, is what America has always wanted,” she said. “These subsequent talks could resolve anything anyone wants to deal with, including the easing of additional sanctions on Iran.”

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