The Pentagon's top general said on Thursday he was opposed to removing the elite Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards from the US terror group list, one of Tehran's conditions for restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.
"In my personal opinion, I believe the IRGC Quds Force to be a terrorist organization, and I do not support them being delisted from the foreign terrorist organization list," Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley told a congressional hearing, according to the AFP news agency.
Iran has pressed for the removal of the State Department's official "Foreign Terrorist Organization" designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a condition for returning to the 2015 deal.
It was not clear whether Milley was suggesting an alternative of keeping the Quds Force designated while dropping the broader Revolutionary Guards from the list.
Last month it was reported that the Biden administration is considering removing terrorism sanctions from the IRGC as part of negotiations to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The US would monitor Iran's compliance with its agreement to de-escalate and would retain the option to restore the designation if Iran is not found to be in compliance, the report said.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid later said they “refuse to believe” that the US would take such a step.
"The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is a terrorist organization that has murdered thousands of people, including Americans. We refuse to believe that the United States would remove its designation as a terrorist organization."
The Israel Hayom newspaper reported recently that Israel is expected to continue exerting pressure on members of Congress to turn down the Biden administration's attempts to remove the IRGC from the national list of terrorist organizations.
The report said that Israel will continue to publicly oppose the nuclear deal in hopes of bringing about its failure in Congress.