IRAN: The Nuclear Talks Game Played by the Regime
A New Report on Tehran’s Nuclear Negotiations Game
Bi-Partisan lawmakers, and national security experts reject sanctions relief and IRGC’s FTO delisting
After one year, negotiations over the Iranian regime’s nuclear program appear to be at a standstill. One of the major sticking points is Tehran’s insistence that the United States remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).
Since the start of 2022, senior Iranian regime officials have repeatedly upped the ante in the negotiations in Vienna over Tehran’s nuclear weapons program.
While the talks occurred in Vienna, the regime increased its uranium enrichment level to 63%, illegally used advanced centrifuges, and limited access to inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in addition to testing advanced missiles and firing rockets into Iraqi territory.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ DNA is to use terrorism as an instrument of national power, against the Iranian people, and around the globe. … To believe that being soft on the IRGC and obtaining compliance in exchange for delisting it from the FTO is equivalent to asking someone to change their DNA.— Hon. David Shedd, former Acting Director, Defense Intelligence Agency
Members of Congress, in a bipartisan way, are opposed to U.S. Government’s potential compliance with Tehran’s demands to lift the IRGC designation as an FTO, as they recognize that the IRGC conducts terror operations around the globe.
Over the years, the Iranian Resistance, with detailed statements, reports, and press conferences, has repeatedly warned about the terrorist threats, plots, and operations of the IRGC and its notorious extraterritorial arm, the Quds Force.
In addition, since last year, the U.S. Representative Office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI-US) has further shed light on the terrorist nature and heightened activities of the Iranian regime, particularly those conducted through the IRGC and the Quds Force.
The IRGC has supplied its proxies in the region with deadly drones, along with necessary training and supplies. Most recently, NCRI-US released a report on the formation of naval proxy terror units by the IRGC, consisting of Yemeni, Lebanese, Iraqi, Syrian, and other nationals who have engaged in attacks on ships and commercial vessels to wage terror in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and elsewhere.
The IRGC should not be delisted from the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization designation.— Amb. Paula Dobriansky, former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
Tehran clearly wants to project power and hide its incurable weaknesses inside Iran. In reality, compared to 2015 when the nuclear talks concluded, the Iranian regime is in a much weaker position inside Iran and in the region. There have been eight major uprisings in Iran since 2017, as the Iranian people have been calling for change. Regionally, the Iranian regime is isolated among the Muslim and Shiite populations in the region, and can only rely on its terror proxies.
The Iranian regime has never been as weak in its 43-year rule. The economy is bankrupt. Inflation is officially pegged at 41 percent and 70 percent of Iranians live below the poverty line. The institutionalized corruption that spans from the Supreme Leader’s office to the IRGC has engulfed the entire regime, leaving the Iranian economy to be run by mafia-like gangs. There are now no prospects of economic improvements under the current regime.
Most importantly, within Iranian society, the spirit of popular resistance against the regime has never been more powerful.
The Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei decided to install Ebrahim Raisi, a mass murderer, as president to consolidate power and prevent more uprisings. For Khamenei, the presidency of Raisi and providing absolute power to the IRGC with more funding, are the two sides of the same coin.
Removing the IRGC from the list of foreign terrorist organizations would actually be worse than not having placed the organization on the list in the first place.— Hon. Michael Mukasey, 81st Attorney General of the United States
Raisi is hated by the overwhelming majority of the Iranian people for his direct role in the execution of political prisoners, especially during the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, a majority of whom belonged to the main Iranian opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). Raisi has relied heavily on the IRGC for his cabinet, his foreign policy teams, and to empower terror proxies abroad.
However, Raisi has failed. In 2021, Iran was the scene of major anti-regime uprisings every four months, including those waged by farmers, workers, teachers, nurses, defrauded investors, steelworkers, and fuel porters. This was coupled with the expanding activities of the Resistance Units, a nationwide network of mostly young activists affiliated with the MEK.
It’s time to support Madame Rajavi’s 10-point plan, which is perfectly consistent with all of our values.— Amb. Lincoln Bloomfield, Jr., former Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs
In a daring act of defiance, the Resistance Units disrupted no less than 25 state-run TV and Radio networks on January 27, 2022. Chants of “Death to Khamenei, Viva Rajavi,” and messages of the Iranian Resistance’s Leadership were broadcast on these channels. The channels were not fully functional for more than a month. Since then, similar campaigns have been undertaken in at least a dozen cities across the country. These activities have demonstrably rattled the regime. The regime’s inability and unwillingness to resolve the underlying economic, political, and social problems plaguing Iranian society, in addition to its failure to extinguish the flames of resistance, the expansion of popular protests, and the activities of the Resistance Units nationwide, lead to only one conclusion: Iranian society is like a powder keg, ready to explode at any moment with the slightest spark.
One thing has become very clear. Regardless of the outcome of the Vienna talks in 2022, the mullahs will never stop their bomb-making program, nor will they abandon their terrorism, or the production and launching of ballistic missiles and drones against other countries in the region. Indeed, on March 10, Khamenei insisted that he will not abandon the nuclear program even after the sanctions are lifted.
As surely as these sanctions will break the will of the Russians invading Ukraine, they will break the will of the mullahs in Iran.— Hon. Robert G. Torricelli, former Democratic Senator from New Jersey
The mullahs want a nuclear deal only to secure financing to pay for repression and warmongering, while they complete their nuclear bomb-making program. The regime’s entire nuclear weapons program must be dismantled, period. There is no halfway solution to the Iranian regime’s threats.
There was sufficient evidence in 2019 to designate the IRGC as an FTO, however, the actions of this terror machine over the past three years have represented additional proof to maintain the FTO designation and increase accountability.
Instead of thinking about which designations should be removed from the terror machines of the Iranian regime, including the IRGC and the Quds Force, the U.S. and western nations should look for ways to hold the regime responsible for its decades of ongoing repression, genocide, and terrorism. The regime’s leaders must face justice for four decades of crimes against humanity and genocide.
The IRGC is the most dangerous terror organization in the world. We must … return to operating from a position of strength.— Dr. Steven Bucci, visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation
The international community should recognize the Iranian people’s struggle to overthrow the clerical regime and establish a democratic, secular, non-nuclear republic in Iran. Nothing can stand in the way of victory by the Iranian people, who have demonstrated incredible courage, resilience, and resolve in the face of intolerable adversities.
This manuscript, includes the views of Members of U.S. Congress from both sides of the aisle, as well as those of several former cabinet members, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, U.S. military generals, and experts from various think tanks–including the Heritage Foundation, the Atlantic Council, the Stimson Center, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, National Institute for Public Policy, JINSA and INSA—makes it clear that this regime is a threat to the world, and the IRGC is a tool to keep the theocracy in power and so it must remain on the FTO list.
Whether in Ukraine or Iran, the cause is the same — the fight is for freedom, for democracy, and for equality. In both Ukraine and Iran, these brave men and women are showing the world that these principles — enshrined in Madame Rajavi’s platform for Iran — are worth fighting and even dying for.— Amb. Mitchell Reiss, former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department
Any sanctions relief would benefit the IRGC and the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism. Every dollar in the hands of the IRGC would prolong the rule of the ayatollahs and enables the regime to force more repression at home and terrorism and mayhem abroad.
Iran is at a threshold as a nuclear weapons state as we speak now. … I applaud what Senator Menendez has been doing with his colleagues in the Senate.— Amb. Joseph DeTrani, former Special Adviser to the Director of National Intelligence
Senator Menendez has suggested three very reasonable criteria. First, (any agreement) should roll back Iran’s nuclear capabilities and close the pathway to a nuclear weapon. Second, it should provide for effective verification. And third, it should constrain Iran’s missile force.— Amb. Robert Joseph, former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control & International Security
The ballistic missile development and testing by the Iranians, which sometimes gets lost in the discussion, is a significant issue for the United States.— Gen. (ret.) Chuck Wald, former Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command
This nuclear deal will not encourage the regime in Tehran to become more moderate, as the deal’s supporters have long advocated, but it will rather empower, enrich, and entrench this regime.— Mr. Jonathan Ruhe, JINSA Director of Foreign Policy