Speaking with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday, Iran’s Ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad warned that any US military moves against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) would be “forcefully retaliated”.
“If they dare to implement those instructions that the IRGC is a terrorist organisation… if they move to counter the IRGC, they would see how forcefully they would be retaliated on the ground”, he said, adding that blacklisting the IRGC was empty rhetoric.
JUST IN: Top Iran diplomat tells me he thinks U.S. designation of the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization is empty rhetoric.— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) 11 апреля 2019 г.
"If they dare to implement those instructions," e.g. in Persian Gulf, "they would see how forcefully they would be retaliated on the ground." pic.twitter.com/FkFzGIPLuS
Baeidinejad elaborated that it would be unreasonable of the United States to take any action against the IRGC since it can affect the position of American troops in the Persian Gulf:
“The reality is the US forces are now in the region, so logically no there are concerns even within the US establishment for naming the IRGC as a terrorist organisation because now it can have a very immediate impact over the situation the US forces have in the region”, he said.
The diplomat continued by saying that the IRGC should be rewarded for its efforts in rooting out Daesh* in Syria and Iraq rather than be listed as a terrorist organisation by the US – something which, he said, was a “pre-election gift” to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Revolutionary Guard "should be rewarded rather than sanctioned" for its role in fighting ISIS, Iran's Ambassador in the UK tells me.— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) 11 апреля 2019 г.
He calls the terrorist designation instituted by the US a "pre-election gift to Netanyahu." pic.twitter.com/6SiUfCgTCD
Baeidinejad’s interview comes on the heels of US President Donald Trump’s decision to designate the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group on 8 April.
“This unprecedented step… recognises 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. The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign”, Trump’s statement read.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added on Monday that the decision would take effect in a week and encouraged the international community to follow suit.
As a retaliatory measure, Iran’s Supreme Security Council designated the US CENTCOM and related forces as a terrorist organisation.
“The Supreme National Security Council of Iran strongly condemning the dangerous and illegal step of the US regime, which put the IRGC on the list of foreign terrorist organisations, considers this groundless measure the main danger to peace and security in the region and around the world”, the council’s statement read, as quoted by local media.
The US decision, which marked the first time that Washington has formally labelled another country’s military as a terrorist group, received strong backing from Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister called Trump his “dear friend” while thanking POTUS for “responding to another important request of mine, which serves the interests of our countries and the countries of the region”.
“We will continue to act together against the Iranian threats to the State of Israel, and the US and world peace”, Netanyahu tweeted.
The IRGC was already under US sanctions: the Treasury Department slapped restrictions on the Revolutionary Guards in 2017 under a 9/11-era executive order that George W. Bush’s administration used to block financing to terrorist groups.
Washington has accused the IRGC of providing assistance to the Syrian military and backing the activities of Hezbollah and Hamas, which the United States and some of its ally classify as terrorists.
*Daesh, also known as ISIS/IS/Islamic State, is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.