Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid urged the United States not to delist Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terror organization in a joint statement on Friday, as Washington moves closer to reviving the nuclear agreement with Tehran.
“The Revolutionary Guards are a terrorist organization that has murdered thousands of people, including Americans. We have a hard time believing that the United States will remove it from the definition of a terrorist organization,” Bennett and Lapid said.
The two ministers said that the fight against terror was a global mission: “We believe that the United States will not abandon its closest allies in exchange for empty promises from terrorists.”
“The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are Hezbollah in Lebanon, they are Islamic Jihad in Gaza, they are the Houthis in Yemen, they are the militias in Iraq,” the statement read. “The Revolutionary Guards are behind the attacks on American civilians and soldiers throughout the Middle East, including in the past year. They are the ones behind the plans to assassinate senior American government officials.”
“The Revolutionary Guards took part in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, they destroyed Lebanon, they are engaged in the murderous repression of Iranian civilians. They kill Jews because they are Jews, Christians because they are Christians, and Muslims because they do not surrender to them,” the statement charged.
“They are a central and integral part of the murderous repression machine in Iran. Their hands are stained with the blood of thousands of Iranians and the trampling of the soul of Iranian society,” the ministers said. “The attempt to abolish the definition of the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization is an insult to the victims and the erasure of a documented reality, with unequivocal evidence.”
“We find it hard to believe that the definition of the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization will be abolished in exchange for a ‘promise not to harm the Americans,'” the statement concluded.
The statement came after Axios reported Wednesday the administration of US President Joe Biden was considering the move, and in return, Tehran would commit to de-escalation in the region.
The IRGC, a hardline militia with close ties to Iran’s supreme leader, was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by former US president Donald Trump’s administration after it withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Washington said Wednesday it was “close” to a deal with Iran on reviving the 2015 pact that saw Western powers provide sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program, the latest sign of advancement following prolonged deadlock.
Days after Russian demands seemed to jeopardize talks in Vienna over restoring the pact, this week has seen multiple signals that an accord may at last be within reach, including the release of two British Iranians Wednesday after years of detention in Iran, and word that outstanding issues have narrowed to just two.
The negotiations began last April between Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran, and Russia, with the United States taking part indirectly.
Iran said Wednesday there were two remaining sticking points in Vienna, including an “economic guarantee” in case a future US administration repeats Trump’s abrogation.
Another source close to the talks said the other issue was the status of the IRGC.