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US lawmakers call on Blinken not to remove IRGC from terror list

Some 80 Congress members say it’s ‘unconscionable’ to lift measures against hardline Iranian militia, which they warn threatens stability in the Middle East

Illustrative: Members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade, marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, in the capital Tehran, on September 22, 2018. (AFP/STR)
Illustrative: Members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade, marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, in the capital Tehran, on September 22, 2018. (AFP/STR)

Over 80 Congress members on Tuesday urged the Biden administration not to delist Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terror group, a move it is thought to be weighing in its bid to return to the nuclear deal with Tehran.

In a letter addressed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the group — led by Rep. Scott Franklin (Republican of Florida) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (Republican of New York) — said they “are united in strong opposition to any move to legitimize the IRGC’s reckless, destabilizing, and antisemitic actions through the Middle East.”

“The IRGC continues to actively participate in acts of terror and destabilizing actions in the region — particularly against one of our closest allies, Israel,” the letter said.

The lawmakers pointed to the hardline Islamic militia as a chief sponsor of many terror groups, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthis, adding that its actions have led to “countless deaths,” including those of over 600 US servicemen during the American occupation of Iraq.

“It is unconscionable that the United States should fail to exert maximum pressure on an evil and malign organization like the IRGC,” they said.

“We strongly urge against any decision that would legitimize the IRGC and allow them to further threaten democracy and freedom around the world.”

Reports in recent days have indicated that Iran is demanding the IRGC be delisted as a condition of its return to the 2015 accord. Former US president Donald Trump added the Guards to the terror blacklist in 2019, in what was seen as a largely symbolic move. Nonetheless, its potential removal has deeply discomfited Israeli leaders.

On Friday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issued a joint statement expressing concern over the potential move, saying, “Even now, the IRGC terrorist organization is trying to murder certain Israelis and Americans around the world. Unfortunately, there is still determination to sign the nuclear deal with Iran at almost any cost – including saying that the world’s largest terrorist organization is not a terrorist organization. This is too high a price.”

In response, a US official told The Times of Israel that the US was “prepared to make difficult decisions to return Iran’s nuclear program to JCPOA limits,” not denying that delisting the IRGC was potentially on the table.

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