Mar 22, 2022 - World

Pompeo: Removing Iran's IRGC from terror list would be "dangerous capitulation"

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei meets with leaders of the IRGC last January. Photo: Handout via Getty
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei meets with leaders of the IRGC last January. Photo: Handout via Getty

Removing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from a U.S. terror list would be “a dangerous capitulation," three former senior Trump administration officials, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said in a joint statement exclusively shared with Axios.

Why it matters: The status of the IRGC is one of the last remaining sticking points in talks to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement.

The big picture: Former President Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018 and imposed a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran.

  • A year later, the Trump administration designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.

What they are saying: Removing the IRGC from the terrorism blacklist would be “a denial of the basic reality that the IRGC's core mission is to spread terror," Pompeo, former national security adviser Robert O’Brien and former director of national intelligence John Ratcliffe said in a joint statement.

  • The three former Trump officials quoted the U.S. Intelligence Community Annual Threat Assessment issued last month, which said that Iran is a direct and indirect threat to U.S. persons and "previously attempted to conduct lethal operations in the United States."
  • “These assessments, combined with the IRGC's lengthy history of killing hundreds of Americans…make it clear: The IRGC is a terrorist organization and should remain labeled as such," Pompeo, O’Brien and Ratcliffe said.
  • “The pursuit of an ill-conceived ‘deal’ should not compel American leaders to acquiesce to the demands of a terrorist regime to deny the truth. American lives are at stake, and this is a time to project strength, not weakness."
  • The White House and the State Department declined to comment.

Between the lines: Removing the designation is a political hot potato for President Biden. The mere consideration of doing so has already created an uproar among Republicans and criticism from some Democrats as well.

  • Even if removed from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terror Organizations, the IRGC will remain on a separate terror list and subject to numerous sanctions.

What’s next: State Department spokesperson Ned Prince said on Monday that an agreement on returning to the 2015 nuclear deal “is neither imminent nor is it certain."

  • Price added that the Biden administration is preparing equally for scenarios with and without a deal.
  • The Biden administration expects Iranian negotiators will be on vacation during the Nowruz holiday, which started on Monday and usually lasts for two weeks, Price hinted.
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