The US administration is considering designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization, in a move aimed at ramping up pressure on Tehran, according to CNN.
It cited high-ranking US officials as saying that the designation "would allow the White House to freeze IRGC assets, impose travel bans and levy criminal penalties on top of pre-existing economic sanctions."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already signaled support for labeling the IRGC, saying that "the end goal is to convince the Islamic Republic of Iran to be a normal country."
US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, for his part, cautioned that the designation "could pose dangers to US forces," a stance that was echoed by some other US officials.
They warned that designating the IRGC, a powerful arm of Iran's military, a terror group would be a unprecedented step that may endanger US diplomatic and military officials.
In October 2017, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned of "particular risks and complexities" related to "designating an entire army, so to speak, of a country where that then puts in place certain requirements."
"It then triggers certain actions that we think are not appropriate and not necessarily in the best interests of our military," Tillerson underscored.
His remarks came after the US Treasury Department announced the expansion of sanctions on the IRGC which were imposed on October 13 over the IRGC allegedly "supporting terrorism," a claim strongly denied by Tehran.
After President Donald Trump's announcement about Washington's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, Pompeo warned of the "tightest ever" sanctions against the Islamic Republic.