Photo Credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO
President Joe Biden meets with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the oval office, August 27, 2021.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday made the final decision to keep Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the State Department’s terrorist blacklist, Politico reported citing a senior Western official who warned that the move further complicates the international efforts to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued a statement early Wednesday morning, saying: “I commend the US administration, led by my friend President Joe Biden, on the decision to keep the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in their rightful place – on the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list. President Biden is a true friend of Israel who is committed to its strength and security.”


Bennett added that “over the past few months we made our stance clear – the IRGC is the world’s largest terror organization, involved in planning and carrying out deadly acts of terror and destabilizing the Middle East. This is the right, moral and correct decision by President Biden, who updated me on this decision during our last conversation. For this I thank him.”

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) / IRNA

On April 15, 2019, the Trump administration announced that it considers the IRGC to be a terrorist organization – a decision that was reportedly opposed by the CIA and the Pentagon. A few days earlier, on April 8, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted in Hebrew that adding the Guards to the blacklist was “another important request of mine.” A week later, Bibi’s wish was granted, leading not only to the clipping of the financial wings of Iran’s 250,000-strong military organization that can no longer use the international banking system to further its terrorist activities but also planting a time bomb that would eventually block the revival of the nuclear deal with Iran.

Needless to say, the blacklisting raised the ire of several governments including Turkey, Iraq, China, and, naturally, the Islamic Republic of Iran whose parliament members wore IRGC uniforms in protest.

In March, Barak Ravid reported that the Biden administration was considering removing the IRGC from the terrorist blacklist if Iran issued a public commitment to de-escalate its activities in the region. According to Ravid, the administration was considering making a public announcement after de-listing the IRCG, saying the US reserved the right to redesignate it should Iran not honor its pledge to de-escalate its violence in the region (Biden Will Remove Revolutionary Guards from Terror Blacklist If They Promise to Behave). Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid expressed their shock and dismay over the report (Bennett & Lapid Express Shock Over Biden’s Overtures to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps).

The Iranians have made it clear that the United States must lift the terrorist designation before they start complying with the nuclear deal, either the old one or the one that’s yet to be finalized. Politico cited US officials who pointed out that the terrorist designation was technically never part of the nuclear deal, so the deal could be revived while the designation is still holding, but no one is expecting the Iranians to budge.

A US official familiar with the issue told Politico last month that Iran’s refusal to restrain the IRGC’s spreading of violence around the region, combined with heightened political concerns in Congress regarding the lifting of the terrorist designation, “means that the Biden administration is highly unlikely at this point to drop the designation in the context of the JCPOA talks.”

You can thank Trump and Bibi.


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