May 1, 2022 | The Wall Street Journal

Foil the Financiers of Iran’s Terrorism

The Biden administration believes Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a terrorist organization. So why lift sanctions on banks that help fund it?
May 1, 2022 | The Wall Street Journal

Foil the Financiers of Iran’s Terrorism

The Biden administration believes Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a terrorist organization. So why lift sanctions on banks that help fund it?

Signals out of the White House suggest President Biden won’t give in to Iran’s demand that the U.S. remove Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the State Department list of terrorist organizations as a condition for a nuclear deal. But if Mr. Biden believes the IRGC is a terrorist organization, he must go further and withdraw his administration’s offer to lift terrorism sanctions on the group’s top financiers.

When news broke in March that Mr. Biden was considering Iran’s request to take the IRGC off the Foreign Terrorist Organization list, the White House faced outcries from Congress, allies in the Middle East, former U.S. officials and Gold Star Families whose loved ones were killed by the IRGC in Iraq. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken if the IRGC is a terrorist organization. “They are,” Mr. Blinken replied.

The next day at the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Mark Milley faced the same question. “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 organization list,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman said. The Quds Force is one of several branches of the IRGC.

A State Department spokeswoman added last month that “the president shares the chairman’s view that IRGC Quds Forces are terrorists.” A senior administration official told the Washington Post’s David Ignatius that the president “doesn’t intend to concede on the terrorist designation, even though this may be a dealbreaker,” in Mr. Ignatius’s paraphrase.

Mr. Goldberg is a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He served as White House National Security Council director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction, 2019-20. Follow him on Twitter @rich_goldberg. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

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Issues:

Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Politics and Economy Iran Sanctions Iran-backed Terrorism Sanctions and Illicit Finance