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08.04.2019 18:50 News >> Update 2 - US Designates Iranian Guard 'Foreign Terrorist' Group

Update 2 - US Designates Iranian Guard 'Foreign Terrorist' Group

Unprecedented action marks first time Washington designates full government agency terrorist body.

The Trump administration on Monday took the unprecedented action of designating Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) a "foreign terrorist organization."

The move marks the first time a government agency has been blacklisted as a terrorist body, though parts of the corps had previously been designated, namely its elite external operations wing, the Quds Force.

U.S. President Donald Trump had long been mulling the penalty, but the process to designate the corps gained traction in the past few months as his administration seeks to escalate pressure on Tehran.

Trump said the designation "recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft."

The designation "makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC. If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism," the president said in a statement.

It will take full effect seven days after Monday's announcement, according to the State Department's counterterrorism coordinator, Nathan Sales.

Iran had threatened to retaliate if the U.S. took the action amid reports that the announcement was imminent.

Shortly after the formal rollout, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif sent a letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iran's Supreme National Security Council urging Tehran to designate U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. forces in the Middle East, as a terrorist organization, according to Iranian media.

Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council, doubted whether the new action would increase economic pressure on Tehran, warning it instead "closes yet another potential door for peacefully resolving tensions with Iran."

"Once all doors are closed, and diplomacy is rendered impossible, war will essentially become inevitable. This is hardly a coincidence as the elements who have pushed for this dangerous decision have a long and public track record of pushing the US towards war with Iran," Parsi added in emailed remarks to Anadolu Agency.

The IRGC has sprawling business interests across the Iranian economy, and was created to be the vanguard of Iran's 1979 revolution. It operates more autonomously than the rest of the Iranian military, answering only to Iran's supreme leader.

It alone controls Iran's ballistic missile forces.

Monday's action opens the door for criminal prosecutions of individuals who do business with the corps, and could allow the U.S. to deny U.S. entry to such individuals.

The designation could hinder U.S. diplomacy, particularly in Iraq and Lebanon where officials regularly have contacts with the corps and its representatives. -



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