Trump designates elite Iranian military force as a terrorist organization

It is the first time Washington has formally labelled another country's military a terrorist group.

Labelling the guards as a terrorist organisation will allow the USA to impose further sanctions - particularly affecting the business sector, given the IRGC's involvement in Iran's economy.

The action on Monday "makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC", Trump said.

Set up after the 1979 Islamic Revolution to protect the Shi'ite clerical ruling system, the IRGC is Iran's most powerful security organization.

The State Department said on Monday that the Guards have been engaged in terrorist activity since the group's inception, including the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 Americans, and a foiled plan to attack the Saudi ambassador to the United States on USA soil.

Zarif also sent a protest letter over the USA designation to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which looks after the US interests in Iran. "We will continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its support of terrorist activity until it abandons its malign and outlaw behavior", Trump's statement continued.

The Trump administration argues that Iran's government, which is locked in a deeply hostile standoff with top U.S. ally Israel, can not be trusted and should face "maximum pressure".

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the IRGC "masquerades as a legitimate military organization" when it sponsors and participates in terrorist activities to bolster the government in Tehran. The PM has touted his close ties to the USA president throughout his election campaign, while Trump has offered vocal support for his Israeli ally. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, said. Any global government or business that is caught dealing with Iranian interests connected to the IRGC could face new sanctions.

For those of us who have literally lived through the evil of the Iranian regime, though, it is past the point where we can sit back and do nothing.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said he "completely" supports the decision and said the announcement is "another example of [the administration's] commitment to reigning in the destructive and murderous Iranian regime".

The Revolutionary Guard Corps is in charge of Iran's ballistic missile programs, according to a study by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, says the Wall Street Journal. "The designation of the IRGC would send that message". "They behave like a terrorist organization and will now be treated accordingly".

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the move.

The Pentagon and USA intelligence agencies have raised concerns about the impact of the designation if the move does not allow contact with foreign officials who may have met with or communicated with Guard personnel.

"Thank you for responding to another important request of mine, which serves the interests of our countries and countries of the region", he said.

"The leaders of Iran are not revolutionaries and people deserve better", Mr Pompeo said.

Branding the IRGC as a terror group could help the USA clamp down on its businesses in Europe and elsewhere and subject IRGC officials to travel restrictions, the WSJ said.

Iran's national security council declared US Central Command (Centcom) a terrorist organisation after Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote to President Hassan Rouhani urging such a response, state news channel IRINN said.

The threat came amid reports that the U.S. administration was considering adding IRGC to its terror list.

Iran's parliament has vowed to retaliate by passing an urgent bill putting American troops on its own terrorism blacklist, which already features the jihadist Islamic State group, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported.

  • Tracy Klein