By Javad Heirannia

Naming IRGC as a terrorist group undermine chances of U.S. returning to JCPOA: Nephew

April 10, 2019

TEHRAN – Richard Nephew, who served as the lead sanctions expert for the U.S. team negotiating with Iran, is of the opinion that naming IRGC as a foreign terrorist group “was intended to increase the pressure on the IRGC and the Iranian government by adding economic pressure.”

The fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, says that “I am not convinced that this will occur but I think that was the intent, at least superficially.”

He also says that this is also intended to undermine chances of the United States returning to the JCPOA in the future or rejoining negotiations with Iran.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What was the goal of the designation of IRGC as a foreign terrorist group? 

A: Well, I think the decision was intended to increase the pressure on the IRGC and the Iranian government by adding economic pressure.  I am not convinced that this will occur but I think that was the intent, at least superficially.  But, I think this is also intended to undermine chances of the United States returning to the JCPOA in the future or rejoining negotiations with Iran.

Q: What will be the impact of this decision on regional security? 

A: I think the biggest impact is the possible risk of escalation and confrontation between the United States forces in the region and those of Iran.  If the Iranians and Americans both view their forces as terrorist groups, then this may reduce options for peaceful deescalation of conflicts and crises.

Q: Is this decision according to U.S. Constitution? 

A: Yes.  The President is authorized to make sanctions decisions of this sort.  There are questions as to whether the IRGC is the sort of entity that was intended to be sanctioned under this authority (as opposed to groups like al Qaeda) but there is  no constitutional issue here.

Q: Can we see more sanctions from President Trump administration against Iran? 

A: Yes, almost certainly.  A bigger question is whether we will see an attempt at diplomacy by this President.
 

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