Donald Trump has designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organisation, marking the first time the United States has formally labelled another country’s military a "terrorist group".
In a statement, Trump said that “Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”
“We will continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its support for terrorist activity until it abandons its malign and outlaw behaviour,” Trump added.
Iran responded to the US move by calling the US a “state sponsor of terrorism” and that the US forces in the region were “terrorist groups”.
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said that the designation was “a major threat to regional and international stability and peace.”
Dozens of entities and people associated with the IRGC, have already been blacklisted by the US but not the organisation as a whole.
The designation came despite the US military and intelligence officials warning Washington that other nations may use the designation as a precedent against US action abroad.
The terrorist designation will come into effect on April 16 and will allow Washington to seek criminal penalties against elements of the military agency and foreign officials deemed to be aiding it. It will also allow Washington to ban individuals affiliated with the IRGC from travelling to the US.
Tensions between the US and Iran have grown since Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year and reimposed the sanctions which crippled Iran’s economy.