The State Department says it would support a decision by the United Kingdom to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group, the latest sign that the Biden administration is giving up hopes of reviving the Iran nuclear deal.
"We encourage our allies and partners to use any appropriate tools to pressure the IRGC," a State Department spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon, following reports the administration was lobbying the U.K. against a designation. "It is up to each country or bloc of countries to determine what designations are applicable under their available legal authorities and in their best interests."
The State Department’s rhetoric comes on the heels of a Telegraph article published Wednesday claiming that President "Joe Biden’s diplomats are pressing the U.K. Government not to formally declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group."
The confusion over the matter is reported to be the product of the United States’s desire to see the United Kingdom act as a mediator with Iran. A designation of the IRGC, Tehran’s paramilitary force responsible for killing scores of Americans, would likely irritate this diplomatic track and prevent the Biden administration from keeping alive negotiations surrounding a revamped version of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The State Department denies meddling in the United Kingdom’s foreign affairs, with the spokesman telling the Free Beacon the United States will not hesitate to issue tough sanctions on the IRGC.
"The Biden administration’s position on the IRGC is clear," the spokesman said. "It is subject to more U.S. sanctions than perhaps any other entity on the planet. We have also regularly sanctioned many IRGC leaders individually in connection with terrorism and human rights abuses."
The State Department also praised "the U.K.’s recent sanctions against a number of IRGC officials for repression against the Iranian people."
The comments appear to indicate the Biden administration wants to avoid a public diplomatic skirmish with one of its closest allies, particularly on the heels of an Iranian strike in Syria Thursday that killed one U.S. contractor and wounded six others, including five American service members.
The U.K. has been divided for months on an IRGC designation, which would make it one of the first major European nations to move forward with that policy.
The European Union has stalled on approving a recommendation by the European Parliament that it designate the IRGC as a global terrorist outfit. This led 12 Republican senators to pressure the European Union on the matter earlier this week, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
"The IRGC clearly presents a threat to the E.U. and our collective security," 12 Republican senators led by Sen. James Risch (R., Idaho), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote on Wednesday to Josep Borrell, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. "It is long past time to cut off its resources before the next tragedy strikes."
The United States designated the IRGC as a terror group in 2019.
In the United Kingdom, the Foreign Office and Home Office—both government ministries—are reported to be at odds over the IRGC terror designation. The Home Office is advocating for the determination, but the Foreign Office opposes it, likely to avoid upsetting relations with Tehran. However, Iran is believed to be behind at least 10 different plots to kidnap and murder British citizens, a data point that is galvanizing British supporters of a terror designation.
Richard Goldberg, former director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction at the White House National Security Council, said the British opponents of an IRGC designation are seeking to preserve "an already dead" Iran nuclear deal.
"The Foreign Office is running around claiming the Americans don’t think we should do this, yet the State Department is disputing that with claim left and right," Goldberg, a senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told the Free Beacon. "Prime Minister Sunak should recognize when he’s getting played by the entrenched, pro-Tehran bureaucracy that would rather preserve an already dead Iran nuclear deal than defend British citizens from IRGC threats."
Republican lawmakers also have pressured Britain to move forward with the determination.
"I join my congressional colleagues in urging the U.K. to join the U.S. in proscribing the IRGC as a terrorist organization," Rep. Claudia Tenney (R., N.Y.) tweeted on Thursday. "The IRGC continues to destabilize the Middle East and terrorize Iranian dissidents around the world."
Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued a similar call on Twitter, saying, "The Biden administration should encourage our friends in the U.K. to label Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps what it is—a terrorist entity."
Published under: Biden Administration , Iran , IRGC , State Department , Terrorism , United Kingdom