Antony Blinken, the elected secretary of state, Joe Biden, has opposed the appointment of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization for fear that it will lead to a setback – a possible sign of the Biden government’s expected softer stance towards Iran.
Biden announced Monday that Blinken, a former deputy security adviser to the Obama administration, will be the country’s top diplomat. The Obama administration has entered into the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPoA) – known as the Iranian Nuclear Agreement – which has normalized relations with the Iranian regime.
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During the administration, he served as Deputy Secretary of State Blinken and Deputy National Security Adviser to former President Obama, while Biden was National Security Adviser.
The Trump government has taken tougher action against Tehran, withdrew from the JCPoA, re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s economic and energy sectors, and took action against the IRGC – including the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani and his appointment as a terrorist group in 2019.
In 2017, when the Trump administration was still brainstorming the idea, Blinken said he was opposed to appointing the IRGC as a terrorist group, noting that the Bush administration had also refrained from such an appointment. He would be appointed by the Trump Administration in 2019.
“If we formally designate it as a terrorist organization, I think it will be a restraint,” CNN said in October 2017. “That’s exactly why the Bush administration and the Obama administration, while applying different sanctions against individual members, leaders, or the IRGC have resisted the organization’s appointment.”
He was then asked how it differed from the fact that the State Department had already described the organization as a leading supporter of terrorism.
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“None of us can love the IRGC and the Quds force,” he replied. “Every day they do terrible things all over the world. But in Iran, they are seen as the armed forces of the regime. And they can do trouble if they want to use it. ”
Instead, he suggested applying existing sanctions, “without publicly putting them in their eyes, in a way that could really blow up the reaction and endanger our troops”.
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Biden has promised to reintroduce the Iranian nuclear deal. The Guardian reported on Monday that the UK, France and Germany met to discuss with the incoming administration a common approach to reviving the problematic case.
Blinken, if confirmed by the Senate, will be at the forefront of all such negotiations. It will also play a key role in re-entering other organizations and agreements from which the Trump administration has withdrawn the United States – including the Paris Climate Agreement.