The Iranian nuclear talks in Vienna have been stalled for more than a month, and there have been several reasons cited for this stalemate. According to most experts, and even Iran regime’s officials, one of the most important issues is whether the regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) will remain on the US government’s Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list, in which they were included in 2019 during Donald Trump’s presidency.
There are many obstacles in the path of the removal of IRGC from the FTO list. Those opposing the IRGC’s removal from the FTO are striving to ensure that the Biden administration does not provide such a concession to Iran.
— Iran Freedom (@4FreedominIran) March 23, 2022
Speaking at the US Senate Armed Services Committee, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said, “In my personal opinion I believe the IRGC Quds Force to be a terrorist organization and I do not support them being delisted from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list.”
In an open letter to the current US President Joe Biden, 70 national security professionals opposed the delisting of the regime’s IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.
An open letter to President Biden opposing removal of Iran's IRGC from the FTO list
70 national security professionals signed an open letter to President Biden opposing the delisting of #Iran's #IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.https://t.co/G5djZwo0yQ
— Iran Freedom (@4FreedominIran) April 12, 2022
In another open letter, 46 retired US generals and admirals opposed the ongoing nuclear deal and urged the US government to avoid getting involved. Retired US Air Force Gen. Charles Wald said: “That just doesn’t sit well with us because the IRGC is the most malicious group in the region.”
— Iran Freedom (@4FreedominIran) April 14, 2022
Recently, a former member of Iran’s nuclear negotiation team Seyyed Hossein Mousavian wrote in an article for the Middle East Eye that the remaining obstacle to continuing the talks was the issue of not removing the IRGC’s name from the terrorist list. He wrote, “US allies in the region, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia, have opposed removing the IRGC from the terrorist list, arguing that it could increase Iran’s threats in the region, and Republicans in the US Congress oppose such a move. Nevertheless, this is a red line for the Iranian government.”
“US Special Envoy Robert Malley recently reiterated that Washington would maintain sanctions against the IRGC even if the organization is eventually removed from the list,” Mousavian continued, before warning about the regime’s malign activities in the Middle East, “There are two related considerations here. Without the participation of the IRGC, no agreement with Iran on regional crises will be possible.”
The main reason for this stalemate is simply the lack of trust in Iran-US relations, and this distrust has become increasingly widespread due to the regime’s breach of promises. It should be noted that over the past few years, many of these breaches have been exposed by the Iranian opposition, namely the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and the National Council Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Now, the question remains as to whether the issue of the IRGC is the only factor that has stopped the talks, and if this issue could be fixed, what direction will the JCPOA talks take?
To put it simply, both sides are trying to extract maximum concessions from one another. The regime wants to get the IRGC delisted because of its legal consequences, which has created big problems for various companies who want to work with the regime, i.e., companies affiliated with the IRGC. The regime has lost most of its financial resources to realize its regional objectives.
Both sides have said that the ball is in the other party’s court. The regime’s reason for this is that Washington is reluctant to remove the IRGC from the FTO because the regime is not giving them the necessary guarantees. For example, the regime has been asked not to pursue the issue of Qassem Soleimani’s assassination and not to interfere in other countries, but they have not heeded this request.
On April 18, the state-run daily Donya-e Eghtesad wrote, “The problem is that the Americans do not want to implement the JCPOA of 2015, but instead want Iran to fulfill all its obligations under the JCPOA. In fact, they want something more than what the 2015 JCPOA provided. One of these was the issue of the IRGC and its place on the terrorist list.”
The paper added, “If the IRGC remains on the terrorist list, it means that the United States does not want to implement the 2015 JCPOA. If the US removes the IRGC from the list, they have demands from Iran, one related to missile discussions and the other related to regional discussions. For this reason, the JCPOA is no longer acceptable by the Americans, because the JCPOA, did not address the missile and regional issues.”
This daily emphasized that the problem is not only the IRGC, adding, “In the unlikely possibility that Iran would accept the inclusion of the IRGC on the terrorist list until we reach an agreement, but the problem also will not be solved.
“First, a group of members of Congress insists that any document in the Vienna talks should have the approval of Congress, which would mean the document would not be finalized. In fact, it is not possible to pass any document in Congress, and on any issue, either Republicans or Democrats will oppose it.
“Another reason is that even if Congress were to approve the document related to the JCPOA, the life of the agreement would not be more than two or three years, because Republicans have vowed that if they get into the White House, they would destroy any deal.”
For these reasons, the regime has no other options but to accept a new deal or reject everything and pay for the consequences, one of them being the expansion of social crises and people’s protests.