WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is debating whether to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, CNN reported on Tuesday.The move would allow the Treasury, Justice and State departments to freeze IRGC assets, target its leadership criminally and restrict its travel – powerful tools at Trump’s disposal in his effort to isolate the Iranian regime by all means over its regional posture.But past administrations have declined to designate the group fearing reprisals worldwide. It would be the first instance in which the US government lists an official state military as a foreign terrorist organization.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly supports the designation, according to the CNN report.The IRGC controls up to a third of Iran’s economy, including its energy sector, and is responsible for Iran’s proxy wars overseas that have united the Arab world with Israel in their opposition to Tehran.“The IRGC is not Iranian in name or deed,” Trump said in a statement on Nowruz, the Persian new year, in March. “It is a hostile army that brutalizes and steals from the Iranian people to fund terrorism abroad.
Since 2012, the IRGC has spent more than $16 billion of Iran’s wealth to prop up the Assad regime and support militants and terrorists in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.Meanwhile, the average Iranian family is 15% poorer today than it was 10 years ago, and nearly 30% of Iran’s youth are unemployed.”“We pledge to continue holding the IRGC and the Iranian regime accountable for conducting cyber-attacks abroad and for suppressing Iranian citizens who are protesting the oppression of their government at home,” he added.The Trump administration has already listed several IRGC entities as terrorist in nature, including cyber units and individuals.But a designation of the entire military arm would expand the Treasury Department’s sanctions abilities and further cripple an Iranian economy already in crisis, facing a spike in inflation, a currency spiral and rising unemployment.The State Department on Monday announced that sanctions lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which Trump withdrew from in May, would begin snapping back on August 6.“These sanctions will include targeting Iran’s automotive sector, trade in gold, and other key metals,” said Brian Hook, policy planning director at the department. “The remaining sanctions will snap back on November 4. These sanctions will include targeting Iran’s energy sector and petroleum- based transactions, and transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.”Hook said the administration is not likely to grant waivers to companies seeking continued business in Iran, as it would defeat the purpose of the new strategy – to apply “maximum economic and diplomatic pressure” on the Iranians.“We have been clear with countries and companies around the world that we are bringing severe economic pressure on Iran until the regime changes its destabilizing policies,” Hook said.The Iranian rial currency is currently trading at 85,000 to one US dollar.
Trump quits Iran nuclear deal, reimposes sanctions on Tehran (Reuters)