Tuesday, in a briefing with the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State Antony Blinken refused to explicitly confirm whether the Iranians declined to halt ongoing assassination attempts on U.S. officials in exchange for lifted terrorism sanctions and designations.

Senator Ted Cruz asked Blinken three times if Iran had refused the eyebrow-raising concession:

Cruz noted that American negotiators have, reportedly, “asked Iranians to make commitments to stop conducting terrorism in exchange for removing the FTO” adding that one of the stipulations was for Iran to “stop trying to murder former American officials.”

He said: “I have to admit it is flabbergasting that the Biden administration would take such Iranian commitments at face value, let alone consider dismantling terrorism sanctions.” He then asked Blinken if it’s true that “American negotiators made specific requests for a commitment that the IRGC will stop trying to murder former American officials?” He also asked if Iran “said no?”

Though Blinken kept saying that Iran’s answer couldn’t be shared in an “open setting,” he seemed to confirm Cruz’s suspicion: “Let me say generically,” he told Cruz, “that there is an ongoing threat against American officials, both present and past.”

Cruz noted that the State Department is spending millions a month to protect former Trump administration officials who are the target of the IRGC’s assassination plots. IRGC operatives are currently trying to avenge the death of Qasem Soleimani, the IRGC Quds Force commander assassinated under the Trump administration by a U.S. drone, by killing U.S. officials involved in the assassination. According to the Washington Examiner, threat of these assassinations has existed as early as late 2021. The Biden administration has been negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran since early 2021, offering the lifting of terrorism sanctions.

Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, former national-security adviser John Bolton, and former special representative for Iran Brian Hook are among those being protected from assassination plots. The Washington Examiner confirmed that:

Designated sensitive but unclassified, the report seen by the Washington Examiner concerns the Diplomatic Security Service’s protection of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former State Department Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook. The report puts the approximate cost of protecting Hook at $175,000 per month and $2 million per month for Pompeo.

Even knowing that Iran is trying to assassinate American leaders, the Biden administration is not only willing to take the Islamic Republic at its word should it renounce the plans, but is still at the negotiating table, anyway.

Cruz captured the hilarity — and depravity — of the current state of negotiations:

“No, we’re going to keep trying to murder your former secretary of state.” The idea that our negotiators are sitting in Vienna saying, “Okay, that’s great, so how many more billions can we give you?” That doesn’t make any sense.

If Iran put aside its assassination plan, the U.S. would reward the Islamic Republic with billions of dollars in sanctions relief (over $130 billion) and potentially lift the FTO designation of the IRGC.

“The only way I could see [the FTO] being lifted is if Iran takes steps necessary to justify the lifting of that designation. So it knows what it would have to do in order to see that happen,” said Blinken.

Should the Biden administration lift the FTO designation, it would make it possible for previously sanctioned IRGC members to travel around the world, and even to the United States. Gabriel Noronha, the former Special Adviser for Iran at the Department of State, explained that without the designation, the IRGC “can come in whether it’s a tourist visa, whether it’s something longer term.”

Some have argued that the administration could still hold the IRGC accountable without an FTO designation. They could, for example, maintain the FTO listing for just the IRGC’s Quds force, its paramilitary unit. This, however, would be a dangerous concession that would still enable Iran’s assassination plots. As Noronha explained, there would still be 200,000 to 1 million current and former IRGC members “who could now travel to the U.S. because there would no longer be a travel ban on Iran.” “Those people,” he explained, “are exactly the kinds of individuals that we should be most concerned would actually be IRGC operatives coming to carry out assassination plots.”

Noronha underscored the gravity of this: “Malley, Blinken, and Sullivan are negotiating an agreement right now that would allow IRGC members in the country while the IRGC is trying to assassinate each one of their predecessors,” referring to Hook, Pompeo, and Bolton, respectively.

“I don’t see how any deal could be reached that gives Iran huge amounts of money, that takes away their terrorism designations, all while they’re still plotting terrorist assassinations on U.S. soil,” said Noronha.

Source » nationalreview