USA labels Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group

USA labels Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group

President Donald Trump says the USA has designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard a "foreign terrorist organization" as part of an effort to increase global pressure on the country.

In 2007, the US Treasury Department designated the Quds Force - a Revolutionary Guards unit in charge of foreign operations - as a supporter of "terrorism", describing it as Iran's "primary arm for executing its policy of supporting terrorist and insurgent groups".

This move-the first time the US has labeled an entity within another government as a terror organization-means any American conducting business with the IRGC could face criminal charges.

Abaca Press/SalamPix/Abaca/Sipa USA/NewscomThe Trump administration said today that it is designating a powerful Iranian paramilitary organization as a foreign terror group.

As rumours swirled that the U.S. was close to making the designation official, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Sunday that Israel had lobbied for it in order to drag the United States into the Middle East "quagmire".

Prior to that, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a letter asked President Hassan Rouhani, as head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, to put US forces in West Asia on the list of terrorist groups of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is battling for political survival in Tuesday's elections, cheered the United States move.

Following the announcement, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Michael McCaul announced plans to roll out legislation in response to the designation that would lower the minimum threshold for sanctionable transactions and penalize Iran's development of funding ballistic missile technology.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed the U.S. decision to label Iran's Revolutionary Guards a "terrorist organization" for allegedly financing and promoting terrorism in the region. "Thank you for answering another of my important requests that serves the interests of our countries and of countries in the region".

The Iranian Supreme National Security Council on Monday named the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) a terrorist organization, and the USA government a sponsor of terror.

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He said it could prompt Qassem Soleimani, the powerful commander of the Quds Force, the IRGC's elite foreign espionage and paramilitary contingent, to allow IRGC-controlled Shi'ite Muslim militias to retaliate against USA forces in Iraq.

Previous administrations have considered expanding the designation to the entire group, but decided that the risk to US forces overseas was too great, according to former USA officials.

"This action will significantly expand the scope and scale of our maximum pressure on the Iranian regime".

The terrorist designation for the Revolutionary Guards is meant to strike at the heart of the Iranian government's power structure.

Mr Bolton said labelling the IRGC as terrorists was "the rightful designation".

A statement signed by a majority of lawmakers in support of the bill said any action against Iran's national security and its armed forces was "crossing a red line" and the USA administration would "regret" its decision.

"This designation ends the façade that the IRGC is part of a normal military", Mr. McCaul said in a statement.

A foreign ministry source told state news agency SANA that the USA move against the IRGC was "a blatant attack" on the sovereignty of Iran, a strong ally of the Syrian regime in the country's eight-year civil war.

After reports of the designation emerged late on Friday, Iran warned it will take reciprocal action. "For 40-years the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guard Corps has actively engaged in terrorism and created, supported and directed other terrorist groups...none of us should be fooled".

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