Iran will not abandon plans to avenge the 2020 US killing of al-Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, despite "regular offers" from Washington to lift sanctions and provide other concessions in return, said a top Iranian official.
A State Department spokesperson told Reuters that if Iran wanted sanctions relief beyond the 2015 nuclear deal, it must address US concerns beyond the pact.
"If Iran wants sanctions lifting that goes beyond the JCPOA, they will need to address concerns of ours beyond the JCPOA," the US spokesperson said, referring to the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
"Conversely, if they do not want to use these talks to resolve other bilateral issues beyond the JCPOA, then we are confident that we can very quickly reach an understanding of the JCPOA and begin reimplementing the deal."
"Iran needs to make a decision," the spokesperson added.
He stated that under any return to the JCPOA, the US would retain and aggressively use its powerful tools to address Iran's destabilizing activities and its support for terrorism and terrorist proxies, especially to counter the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Al-Quds Force is the foreign espionage and paramilitary arm of the IRGC that controls its allied militia abroad.
The Trump administration put the IRGC on the State Department's Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list in 2019, the first time Washington formally labeled another nation's military a terrorist group.
The IRGC's Navy Commander Alireza Tangsiri said Iran's foes relayed a message that if Tehran gave up revenge for Soleiman's killing, then "we will give that concession and lift sanctions," reported Iran's state-run ISNA news agency.
He dismissed such hopes a "wishful thinking."
Tangsiri said both Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and IRGC Commander Maj-Gen Hossein Salami are insistent on avenging the assassination, but "we decide on its place and time."
Last week, NBC News reported that Iran rejected the proposal and responded about two weeks ago with a counter-proposal, which remains unclear.
The Biden administration has yet to respond formally to the Iranian counter-proposal, the sources told the channel.
Reuters quoted an Iranian diplomatic source as saying that Tehran rejected a US proposal to overcome this point by keeping the al-Quds Force sanctioned while removing the IRGC, as an entity, from the list.
Axios quoted US and Israeli sources last month that Iran had rejected a US proposal to de-escalate in the region in return for removing the Guards from the FTO list.
Last Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the fundamental principle in Iran's foreign policy was formed after the cowardly assassination.
"The action taken by the perpetrators and advisers of this cowardly act will not go unpunished."