Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Friday condemned the Biden administration's intention to remove Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps from its foreign terror organization list.
"The IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] are responsible for attacks on American civilians and American forces throughout the Middle East, including in the past year. The IRGC were behind plans to assassinate senior American government officials," the two leaders said in a joint statement, adding that "the attempt to delist the group as a terrorist organization is an insult to the victims and would ignore documented reality supported by unequivocal evidence."
"We find it hard to believe," the two leaders said, "that the IRGC’s designation as a terrorist organization will be removed in exchange for a promise not to harm Americans," the statement added.
On Wednesday, a source familiar with the matter said that the United States is considering removing the IRGC from its foreign terrorist organization blacklist in return for Iranian assurances about reining in the elite force.
The source said Washington had not decided what might be an acceptable commitment from Tehran in exchange for such a step, which would reverse former U.S. President Donald Trump's 2019 blacklisting of the group and draw sharp Republican criticism.
The move was the first time Washington had formally labeled part of another sovereign government as a terrorist group.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a powerful faction in Iran that controls a business empire as well as elite armed and intelligence forces that Washington accuses of carrying out a global terrorist campaign.
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The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Biden administration was weighing whether to drop the terrorist designation "in return for some kind of commitment and/or steps by Iran, with respect to regional or other IRGC activities."
The Biden administration's consideration of such a tradeoff was first reported by Axios, citing Israeli and U.S. sources.
Multiple sources have said dropping the designation is one of the last, and most vexing, issues in wider indirect talks on reviving the 2015 deal under which Iran limited its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.
Reuters contributed to this report.