On April 3, the Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said a nuclear deal was “close,” and that “the ball is in the U.S. court.” Since then, little progress has been made. Carine Hajjar notes that, despite the growing bipartisan opposition to the deal and the billions in sanction relief that have already been granted to it, the Islamic Republic seems to be waiting for its other conditions to be met.
Iranian demands are the final barrier [to a deal]. Tehran wants the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), one of the world’s most prolific supporters of terrorism, to be delisted as a foreign terrorist organization. It’s underscoring that demand with a request for a guarantee that the deal will remain in place after the Biden administration.
Fully knowing that the Biden administration cannot enact a permanent treaty, this is Iran’s bid to get some extra goodies in the final days of consideration. As of now, any deal passed by the Biden administration would be an international agreement, not a Senate-approved treaty, meaning it could be repealed by a future administration.
To excuse its concessions, the Biden administration has engaged in some damage-control optics. But that’s all they are: optics. For instance, it sanctioned an individual and a handful of companies associated with the IRGC’s ballistics program after the recent strike [on a U.S. consulate in the Iraqi city of] Erbil. But without continual and comprehensive pressure, these narrow sanctions will be one step forward, and four steps back.
The administration is also arguing that even if the IRGC is removed from the foreign-terrorist-organization list, “The IRGC will remain sanctioned under U.S. law and our perception of the IRGC will remain,” according to Robert Malley, the State Department’s special envoy for Iran. To legitimize this move, it has opted for a pinky-promise, asking Iran for a public written guarantee of good behavior. Iran won’t even do that.