The administration’s potential move, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, would mark an escalation in U.S. posture toward Iran. It would be the first time the U.S. has designated a nation’s military as a terrorist group and would signal that the administration is prepared to take a much harder line against Tehran’s support for terrorism.
But Iranian officials say they’ll respond in kind and will treat U.S. military forces “like the Islamic State all around the world,” suggesting possible violent confrontations between the two sides.
“We will answer any action taken against this force with a reciprocal action,” 255 Iranian lawmakers said in a letter over the weekend, according to Reuters. “So the leaders of America, who themselves are the creators and supporters of terrorists in the (Middle East) region, will regret this inappropriate and idiotic action.”
The U.S. has for years considered labeling the Revolutionary Guard — a powerful branch of the military founded in the aftermath of the country’s 1979 revolution — as a terrorist group. Top administration officials have told the Washington Times recently that Iran and its leaders continue to offer sanctuary to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, as well as financing the flow of terrorist fighters and weapons across the region.
The Revolutionary Guard is believed to be a key part of the nation’s institutionalized support for terrorism.
President Trump last year withdrew with the U.S. from an international agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program. Exiting that deal has allowed the administration to reinstitute economic sanctions on the country.