Iran declares U.S. a 'state sponsor of terror' after Guards' designation

Tehran's landmark Milad Tower is seen through a row of national flags in the center of the Iranian capital

Tehran's landmark Milad Tower is seen through a row of national flags in the center of the Iranian capital

President Donald Trump said the "unprecedented" move "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".

"It makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC", Trump said.

After US President Donald Trump took office, he withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and set about clamping down on Tehran's influence in the Middle East, re-imposing a strict sanctions regime that was designed in part to curb the influence of the Guards.

Pompeo and Hook said that 603 troops killed in Iraq since the United States invaded in 2003 - or 17 percent of the total USA death toll - could be attributed to Iran.

Critics have warned that the move could open US military and intelligence officials to similar actions by unfriendly governments.

The US has in the past blacklisted dozens of entities and people for affiliations with the IRGC, but not the organization as a whole.

"Thank you, my dear friend, US President Donald Trump, for having chose to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization", Netanyahu said in a statement issued minutes after the White House announcement. "A (nother) unsafe USA misadventure in the region", he wrote.

But Iranian officials say they'll respond in kind and will treat USA military forces "like the Islamic State all around the world", suggesting possible violent confrontations between the two sides.

Netanyahu, an ally of Trump, thanked the U.S. president and said it would help in "keeping the world safe from Iran aggression and terrorism".

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Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who recommended the CENTCOM designation, denounced the move against the Revolutionary Guards as a way to sway the Israeli election.

Iran has always been designated a "state sponsor of terrorism" by the USA and the State Department now designates more than 60 organizations as "foreign terrorist organizations".

"As a retaliatory measure to the U.S. illegal decision [to recognize the IRGC as a terrorist organization], Iran declares the USA regime a "state that supports terrorism" and the CENTCOM and forces that are linked to it a "terrorist group", the security council's statement, quoted by the Islamic Republic of Iranian Broadcasting state media outlet, read.

Iran has already vowed to take punitive actions against the United States as a result of the designation, which could cripple many key sectors of the Iranian economy due to the IRGC's involvement in a range of Tehran's business ventures.

Another official said the force has "been a principal driver of violence on a vast scale for many decades" in an attempt "to reshape the Middle East in Iran's favor".

Anticipating the designation, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, wrote on Twitter that Trump "should know better than to be conned into another USA disaster". Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has tried unsuccessfully to further restrict the group's expansive powers at home.

Israel has long considered the Islamic Republic of Iran to be its greatest foe, citing its leaders' hostile rhetoric, suspect nuclear program, development of long-range missiles and support for anti-Israeli militant groups such as Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and other countries have accused the guard of supplying the Houthis with long-range missiles, a charge it denies.

The SNSC's statement described the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a force spearheading the fight against United States backed terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, ISIL, al-Nusra Front etc. Tehran has warned that it has missiles with a range of up to 2,000 km (1,242 miles), putting Israel and USA military bases in the region within reach.

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