Iran has dropped its demand that the US remove its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) from a terror blacklist as part of ongoing talks to return both countries to the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, the State Department said on Monday.
President Joe Biden has stalwartly opposed lifting the IRGC’s blacklisting as part of any deal that would return the US and Iran to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and State Department spokesman Ned Price said the demand has been removed from the latest version of the agreement the US has seen.
“That's part of the reason why a deal is closer now than it was two weeks ago. But the outcome of these ongoing discussions still remains uncertain as gaps do remain," Price told reporters, noting the US is "encouraged" that the demand appears to have been rescinded.
Indirect talks between Iran and the US, mediated by the EU, concluded in Vienna earlier this month with a draft of the agreement being reached after over a year of negotiations.
Iran has submitted its response to the European Union's draft text, and Price said the State Department is "working as quickly as we can to put together an appropriate response" to Iran's text.
"This is a process that we want to make sure that we undertake with the rigor, and with the attention to detail that is necessary for an issue that is as important as this one is," he said.
"We're working as quickly as we can, as methodically as we can, and as carefully as we can to see to it that our response is complete, it takes into account the Iranian feedback, and we'll provide that to the EU as soon as we can," he added.
Former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the JCPOA in 2018, and went on to pursue what he and his administration called a "maximum pressure campaign" to bring Tehran back to the negotiating table to craft a more comprehensive agreement.
Tehran retaliated against Trump's reimposition of sweeping sanctions, and the addition of new economic penalties, by stepping back from its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA.
Tehan has since exceeded thresholds on the enrichment of uranium, as well as the amount it is allowed to possess, under the pact.