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Canada designates Iran's IRGC as a terrorist group

Iran condemned the decision on its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, calling it 'ill-considered and provocative'
This handout photo provided by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) official website Sepah News on 17 January 2023.
This handout photo provided by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) official website Sepah News on 17 January 2023 (AFP)

Canada has announced it is listing Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation, following in the steps of former President Donald Trump's administration in the US, which made a similar move in 2019.

Ottawa linked the decision to Iran's ties with the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah and the Palestinian armed group Hamas, both of which have been engaged in fighting Israeli forces since October.

"Listing the IRGC builds on the government of Canada's broader efforts to ensure that there is no impunity for Iran's unlawful actions and its support of terrorism," Dominic LeBlanc, Canada's minister of public safety and intergovernmental affairs, said in a statement.

"Our government will always promote human rights and take action against those seeking to disrupt our way of life, here in Canada and around the world."

Iran's foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said the move was "ill-considered and provocative", and that Tehran reserves the right to respond "proportionately".

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"The IRGC, an institution integral to Iran's national security, derives its legitimacy from the Iranian constitution," Kanani said, according to the Iranian media.

Canada already lists the IRGC's overseas arm, the Quds Force, as a terrorist group, and the North American country has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since 2012.

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Ottawa's decision to sanction the entirety of the IRGC comes as tensions between Israel and Hezbollah are reaching a boiling point. Earlier this week, the US signalled that it would back Israel in a potential offensive against the Lebanese group, which is backed by Iran.

The IRGC was formed following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and is part of the Islamic Republic's official military structure.

LeBlanc added that the designation could allow Canada to investigate any former Iranian government officials living in the country.

Under Canadian law, once a group is designated as a terrorist entity, police are allowed to charge or go after anyone who supports the group.

The move could also potentially affect Iranians who have sought refuge in Canada, given that some have previously served in the IRGC as a part of Iran's mandatory military service.

Several countries in Europe, including Germany, are also pushing the European Union to designate the IRGC as a terrorist group.

Iran and Canada have had tense relations over the past decade. Eight years after Ottawa cut diplomatic ties, in 2020 Iran shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane that had dozens of Canadian citizens and residents on board.

The strike came amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US, which had just killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

Iran said the downing of the plane was an accident spurred by human error, and last year a court in Iran issued initial sentences for 10 unnamed people accused of playing a role in the downing.

But in a case at the International Court of Justice, Canada said Iran had failed "to conduct an impartial, transparent and fair criminal investigation and prosecution consistent with international law".

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