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US: Bipartisan lawmakers urge EU to designate IRGC as terrorist organisation

Lawmakers write that the designation would increase pressure and send a clear message to Iran that its terror campaigns must stop
Protesters hold placards at a march in central London on 21 January 2023 against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Protesters hold placards at a march in central London against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, on 21 January 2023 (AFP)

A group of bipartisan US lawmakers is calling on the European Union to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation.

In a letter written to Josep Borrell, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, more than 130 members of the House wrote, that given the growing threat Iran poses to EU member states and citizens, Borrell should treat this issue with the “utmost urgency”.

They wrote that there is an abundance of evidence which is available to the US that provides a basis for a terror designation. 

Then on 13 April, Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney introduced a bipartisan resolution urging the EU to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organisation.

“Combatting the IRGC is one of the most urgent national security agenda items today,” Tenney wrote. “Congress is united in opposing the IRGC’s terror campaign… This designation will increase pressure and send a clear message to the Islamic Republic that its terror campaigns must stop.”

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On 18 January, the European Parliament voted 598 to 9 in favour of a measure calling for the EU to designate the IRGC as part of an annual foreign and security policy report.

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Following the vote, the EU Foreign Affairs Council elected not to execute the designation.

“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror. For decades, the IRGC has freely and openly carried out plots targeting citizens in countries across the EU,” the bipartisan letter stated. 

The lawmakers wrote that the IRGC has supported and participated in numerous human rights abuses, including the crackdown of Iranian protestors following the murder of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman from the country's Kurdish region who died on 16 September 2022 while being held for "inappropriate attire”.

“We strongly urge you, and your foreign affairs ministerial colleagues, to make the decision to fully sanction, penalize and delegitimize the IRGC, to help prevent them from further threatening democracy & freedom in the United States, Europe, and around the world,” the letter stated.

In 2019, the US designated the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO), a year after former President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and imposed a "maximum pressure" strategy on Tehran that included reimposing sanctions.

The designation then became a major sticking point in talks aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The most recent effort from US lawmakers comes more than a week after Axios reported that the US had discussed with European and Israeli partners a plan for an interim nuclear agreement with Iran, which would include some sanctions relief in exchange for the Islamic Republic freezing some parts of its programme.

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