(photo credit: AP)
Iran's parliament on Saturday approved a nonbinding resolution to label the CIA and the US Army "terrorist organizations." The move is seen as a diplomatic tit-for-tat after the US Senate voted in favor of a resolution urging the State Department to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization.
"The aggressor US Army and the Central Intelligence Agency are terrorists and also nurture terror," said a statement by the 215 lawmakers who signed the resolution at an open session of the Iranian parliament. The session was broadcast live on state-run radio.
The hard-line dominated parliament said the two were terrorists, because they were involved in dropping nuclear bombs in Japan in World War II, used depleted uranium munitions in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq, supported the killings of Palestinians by Israel, bombed and killed Iraqi civilians and tortured terror suspects in prisons.
The resolution, which is seen as a diplomatic offensive against the US, urges Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government to treat the two as terrorist organizations. It also paves the way for the resolution to become legislation that - if ratified by the country's hardline constitutional watchdog - would become law. The government is expected to remain silent over the parliament resolution and wait for US reaction before making its decision.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted 76-22 in favor of a resolution urging the State Department to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. While the proposal attracted overwhelming bipartisan support, a small group of Democrats said they feared labeling the state-sponsored organization a terrorist group could be interpreted as a congressional authorization of military force in Iran.
The Bush administration had already been considering whether to blacklist an elite unit within the Revolutionary Guard, subjecting part of the vast military operation to financial sanctions.
The US legislative push came a day after Ahmadinejad told world leaders at the UN General Assembly that his country would defy attempts to impose new sanctions by "arrogant powers" seeking to curb its nuclear program, accusing them of lying and imposing illegal penalties on his country.
He said the nuclear issue was now "closed" as a political issue and Iran would pursue the monitoring of its nuclear program "through its appropriate legal path," the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is the UN's nuclear watchdog.
Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated over Washington accusations that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and has been supplying Shiite militias in Iraq with deadly weapons used to kill US troops. Iran denies both of the allegations.
Earlier this month, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, named a new head for the elite Revolutionary Guard. He appointed Mohammed Ali Jafari, described as a senior figure in the hardline force, to replace Yahya Rahim Safavi, who led the Guard for the last decade.
In a new decree, Khamenei also appointed Jafari to run the Basij, groups of volunteers dedicated to support the ruling Islamic establishment, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The appointment effectively merged the two forces. Further intertwining the Guard with the popular Basij force is widely believed to be aimed at undermining US efforts to designate the Guard a terrorist organization.