US considering removing Iran’s IRGC from terror list – source

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Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards march during a parade commemorating the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) in Tehran September 22, 2010. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

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March 16 (Reuters) – The United States is considering removing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps from its blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations in exchange for Iran‘s pledge to rein in the elite force, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The source said Washington has not decided what an acceptable commitment might be from Tehran in exchange for such a move, which would reverse the group’s blacklisting by former US President Donald Trump in 2019 and drew harsh Republican criticism.

The move marked the first time Washington had officially designated part of another sovereign government as a terrorist group.

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The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a powerful faction in Iran that controls a business empire and elite military and intelligence agencies that Washington accuses of orchestrating a global terror campaign.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Biden administration is considering dropping the terrorist designation “in exchange for some sort of commitment and/or action by Iran regarding regional or other IRGC activities.” should let.

The Biden administration’s consideration of such a compromise was first reported by Axios, citing Israeli and US sources.

Multiple sources have said the removal of the designation is one of the latest and most vexing issues in broader indirect talks over the revival of the 2015 deal under which Iran limited its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Asked about the possibility of removing the IRGC from the US terror list, US State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to comment, except that lifting sanctions is the focus of negotiations to revive the nuclear deal .

Last week, an Iranian official said delisting the IRGC from the blacklist was discussed back in June, but matters became more complicated after hardliner Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran’s president last summer.

The Iranian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States had made it clear “that it cannot remove it without major concessions from Iran,” a stance he says has been rejected by Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani had been.

The IRGC’s political influence over Iran’s complex power structure has increased since the election of Raisi, who took office in August and whose government includes dozens of Revolutionary Guards commanders.

Raisi’s election resulted in a five-month gap in indirect US-Iranian talks on reviving the nuclear deal, which Trump abandoned in 2018 and reimposed US sanctions, prompting Iran to start violating its nuclear borders about a year later .

Negotiations resumed in late November, with officials from other parties to the deal – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – as well as European Union officials coordinating talks between US and Iran officials. A deal would allow Iran to sell its oil abroad.

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Reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Saint Paul, Minnesota and Parisa Hafezi in Dubai; Additional reporting by John Irish in Paris; Edited by Mary Milliken and Alistair Bell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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