March 15, 2022

A New Nuclear Deal With Iran Shouldn’t Be Accompanied By Terrorist Legitimization

By John O'Malley

Iran has a new demand for U.S. diplomats as they conclude what will hopefully be the final round of negotiations for a new nuclear agreement later this month: Remove the 2019 U.S. foreign terrorist organization (FTO) designation on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC). The United States should reject this demand, even if it risks Iranian noncompliance with negotiations. Removing the terrorist stigma from the IRGC will embolden Iranian proxies and anger regional allies.

Removing the label of terrorism should take effort on behalf of the offending party, something the Islamic Republic is unwilling to provide.

FTO designations can be assigned to groups if they meet three criteria under U.S. Code §1189—the group must be foreign, engaged in terrorist activity, and threaten U.S. national security. By labeling a group as an FTO, the United States creates extraterritorial criminal and civil liability for parties engaged in providing them with material support. There are currently 73 groups listed, and their status is reviewed every five years by the U.S. State Department.

Maintaining the FTO designation applies political pressure on states that interact with the IRGC—namely Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon—to significantly alter their relationships or risk international pariah status. The Iranian marketplace becomes dangerous for prospective business partners, as any dealings with the country could be perceived as IRGC financing since it is state-sponsored. Designations also clarify U.S. attitudes toward international actors and let Iran know that the actions of its paramilitary organization are not tolerated by the United States, irrespective of any future diplomatic re-engagement.

Read the full article from Global Security Review.

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