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Trump Administration Designates Part Of Iran’s Military As Foreign Terrorist Group

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The Trump administration has taken an unprecedented step in its bid to put pressure on Iran. It has designated part of Iran’s military, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as a foreign terrorist organization. NPR’s Michele Kelemen reports on what that means.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says this is the first time the U.S. is putting part of another government on the same terrorism list that includes al-Qaida and ISIS.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE POMPEO: We’re doing it because the Iranian regime’s use of terrorism as a tool of statecraft makes it fundamentally different from any other government.

KELEMEN: The U.S. accuses the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps of supporting militants across the Middle East – providing Iraqis, for example, with roadside bombs that killed hundreds of Americans during the Iraq War. Now anyone who supports the IRGC could face criminal charges.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

POMPEO: If you’re the general counsel for a European financial institution today, there’s more risk. It is absolutely the case that the IRGC amounts to a significant piece of the Iranian economy through pure kleptocracy.

KELEMEN: Advisers to President Trump say he wanted to take this step for a long time. Pentagon officials, though, have raised concerns about what this could mean on the ground. A former sanctions adviser, Elizabeth Rosenberg, puts it this way.

ELIZABETH ROSENBERG: People are concerned that it makes it more difficult to work together when necessary. Perhaps that means sharing information to make sure that there’s not a military mishap.

KELEMEN: In Syria or Iraq, for instance. Rosenberg, who is with the Center for a New American Security, doesn’t really see the upsides since the IRGC faced other sanctions already.

ROSENBERG: It doesn’t change the amount of economic pressure on Iran, and it makes it harder to seek denouement or a climbdown with Iran in the future if political circumstances should make that feasible.

KELEMEN: The State Department’s point person on Iran, Brian Hook, though, insists this move will not hamper diplomacy. He says the Middle East won’t be stable unless the IRGC is weakened. A top Iranian official says the U.S. approach will fail.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department.

(SOUNDBITE OF EL JAZZY CHAVO’S “NO FLOWERS AT MY BALCONY”) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.



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