Iran’s demand from the US to remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its terrorist list has transformed from an unresolved issue at the Vienna talks to an item for internal controversy among conservatives in the cleric-led country.
Controversy is raging in Tehran despite Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian confirming that the country was holding onto the condition for reaching a nuclear deal in Vienna. He had praised IRGC leaders for their sacrifice in greenlighting Iran avoiding any “obstacles” in the way of reviving the nuclear agreement.
In a televised interview, the minister said the delisting demand was one of the important issues at the negotiations, which conclude their first year next week.
He explained that the problem with negotiations lies in some of the important outstanding issues between Iran and the United States. Removing the IRGC terrorist designation is one of the issues on the agenda.
He said IRGC commanders do not object if the government gives up its demand from the US to remove the military organization from its Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.
He claimed that senior Revolutionary Guard officials always tell the government that it should do whatever it deems necessary to secure the country's national interests and not to prioritize the issue of the IRGC, calling it “self-sacrifice on the part of the IRGC.”
However, he added that despite having the “permission” from the IRGC, the government continues to consider its removal from the US list of terror organizations as a “major issue” in the talks.
The misinterpretation, or imprecise quotation, of Amirabdollahian’s remarks on Saturday prompted scathing criticism from some hardliners in Iran.
The ultra-hardliner chief editor of Kayhan newspaper, Hossein Shariatmadari, harshly attacked the FM, describing his remarks as “very odd and unexpected.”
Shariatmadari, appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said to forgo the IRGC delisting was “surrender,” not “sacrifice.”
“These remarks could suggest that Iran's foreign minister is not blessed with the adequate and necessary command of current affairs in his domain of responsibility,” he wrote and urged IRGC commanders to correct the Amirabdollahian’s remarks.