Elements of the Biden administration’s State Department are trying to thwart the United Kingdom’s move to formally label Iran’s paramilitary organization as a terrorist group, according to The Telegraph, which cited anonymous sources.
The U.K.’s Home Office supports the move to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, but U.S. diplomats are pressuring the foreign ministry to oppose it, The Telegraph reported, citing government sources. The U.S. argument, echoed by the Foreign Office, is that the designation would harm Britain’s potential role as a mediator between the two hostile countries.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said he was “not familiar” with the report at a briefing Wednesday.
“We are determined to work with our allies and partners around the world … to do everything we can to hold the IRGC accountable, to counter its malign activities,” Price said. “Obviously questions of legal authority in individual countries or blocs of countries are not precisely questions for us.” (RELATED: Netanyahu Met With Top Military Officials In Preparation For Possible Attack On Iran’s Nuclear Program: REPORT)
Former President Donald Trump designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization in 2019, saying the organization serves an “outlaw regime that uses terrorism as a key tool of statecraft” and has committed terrorist acts for decades.
“The idea that we would discourage other countries from taking an approach that we’ve taken, that doesn’t ring true to me,” Price said.
Several concurrent diplomatic initiatives are at play in regards to Iran. The Biden administration was conducting third-party negotiations in Oman over a possible prisoner exchange with Iran that could entail the release of $7 billion in frozen Iranian assets, NBC News reported on Feb. 15.
A “U.K. official” was acting as a “representative” for the U.S. in discussions held sometime in 2022 over the prisoner release, Iranian foreign minister Amir-Abdollahian said, according to NBC News.
Excellent meeting in Oman with Sheikh Khalifa Al Harthy. We discussed deepening our close partnership on a range of issues related to Iran. I also reiterated our thanks to Oman for their help securing Baquer Namazi’s release. pic.twitter.com/tgeHgKoc5d
— Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley (@USEnvoyIran) February 15, 2023
The U.K.’s Home Office, which includes the security minister and Home Secretary, has spearheaded the push to proscribe the IRGC, criminalizing belonging to the group or providing it with any kind of support, according to The Telegraph. Iran’s paramilitary backed ten plots to kidnap or murder British civilians in 2022, the U.K. intelligence director said.
However, the foreign ministry opposes the designation on various grounds, including that legal designations generally apply to organizations that are not directly a part of a central state institution.
On Monday, the British government reprimanded Iran’s top diplomat in the country after finding Iranian operatives had targeted the lives and press freedom of U.K. journalists, The Associated Press reported.
“These are arguments made without any real evidence in supposedly mysterious intelligence circles,” a source inside the U.K. government who favors proscribing the IRGC told The Telegraph. “The Government will do everything it can to crack down on the Iranian regime’s criminal operations here in Britain.”
A U.S. State Department spokesperson told The Telegraph “it is up to each country to determine what action in regards to the IRGC is applicable under their legal authorities and in their best interests.”
The State Department referred the Daily Caller News Foundation to Price’s remarks.
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