US designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terror group – Zarif: Election-eve gift to Netanyahu

The United States has designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization, President Donald Trump said on Monday, marking the first time Washington has formally named a branch of the armed forces of a foreign government as a terror group.

“This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, 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,” President Donald Trump said.

The designation could spark Iranian retaliation as well as open hundreds of foreign companies and business executives to US travel bans and possible prosecution for sanctions violations.

US  to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards a foreign terror group

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move is part of an effort to put “maximum pressure” on Iran to end its support for terrorist plots and terror activity that destabilizes the Middle East.

Speaking to reporters, he rattled off a list of terror attacks dating to the 1980s for which the US holds Iran and the IRGC responsible, beginning with the attacks on the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983.

“With this designation, the Trump administration is simply recognizing a basic reality,” Pompeo said.

US to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards a foreign terror group (3)

The move comes nearly a year after President Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimposed the sanctions that had crippled the nation’s economy.

Iran has threatened it will take reciprocal action against Washington for its move against the Guards.

According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, a state-run news agency, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has proposed designating the US Central Command (Centcom) in its terror list.

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On Twitter, Zarif called the move “A(nother) misguided election-eve gift” to Prime Minister Netanyahu, ahead of his re-election campaign.