Ned Price
Ned Price REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/POOL/File Photo

The US still considers Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist group, State Department Spokesman Ned Price told Al Arabiya in an interview on Tuesday.

“You’ve heard from the Secretary [of State Antony Blinken] that the IRGC has conducted terrorist attacks. Clearly, we’re concerned by the threat that the IRGC poses,” Price said.

The comments come as the indirect talks between the US and Iran aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal have hit a snag over Tehran’s demand to have the IRGC’s terror designation revoked.

A recent report indicated that the Biden administration is considering removing terrorism sanctions from the IRGC as part of negotiations to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

However, a subsequent report in The Washington Post said that the Biden administration plans to reject the Iranian demand.

Price suggested in the Al Arabiya interview that steps taken by the State Department proved that the Biden administration was working to counter threats by the IRGC.

“Of the 107 sanctions that this administration has imposed on Iran since January 2021, until the present, 86 of them have been on the IRGC or its affiliates,” Price said. “We are working closely, using our own authorities, also with partners in the region, to counter the IRGC and the threat it poses potentially to our personnel and to our partners in the region as well.”

Nevertheless, he added, the US is still hoping to reach a deal with Iran to revive the deal.

“As of May 2022, we continue to believe that if the restrictions that the nuclear deal imposed were re-imposed on Iran, Iran’s nuclear program would be put back in a box, that breakout time that now stands at weeks would be lengthened significantly,” Price said.

He added, “It’s unacceptable that the breakout time is so low. President Biden has a commitment that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon.”

Price also said that a return to the so-called JCPOA would be one way to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

But he also said that the US and its allies would “pursue other means,” if needed, to ensure this would never happen.

“It was never certain, it was never clear to us whether we’d be able to achieve a mutual return to compliance, so we’ve always been engaged in contingency planning with our partners,” Price stressed.