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Iran says to put European military on terror list if EU designates IRGC

Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards (Photo: Abedin Taherkenareh / EPA)
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TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s parliament on Sunday warned of a “decisive and prompt” response to the European Parliament’s move to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.

Speaking during a special session, which also saw Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and IRGC chief General Hossein Salami in attendance, Parliament Speaker Baqer Qalibaf said Iran will respond to any move sanctioning or listing the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

As part of the response, he stressed, the European military deployed in the region would be designated as “terrorist groups”, while urging the Western countries to “not close the window of diplomacy.”

In a non-binding vote last week, the European Parliament condemned the IRGC for its crackdown on protesters amid the months-long unrest in the country as well as the supply of drones to Russia for use in Ukraine.

MEPs overwhelmingly voted for a resolution that calls for “the EU and its member states to include the IRGC on the EU’s terrorist list”.

However, according to reports, it is unlikely to figure in the next round of sanctions on Iranian individuals and entities expected to be approved by the EU on Monday. Iran maintains that designating the elite force as a terrorist organization would be a “completely illegal” move as it is the official military branch of the Iranian government.

Qalibaf, a former IRGC Navy commander and a top conservative leader, said the European countries have “taken the wrong path” while hailing the elite force for “eliminating the Daesh/ISIS”.

Amir-Abdollahian in a Twitter post said the country’s parliament is mulling over placing the armies of European countries on the terror list as a “counter-measure”.

The top Iranian diplomat told reporters that “all countermeasures are conceivable”, including Iran’s exit from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), “if Europe does not change its stance” on the IRGC’s black-listing.

Iran-EU tensions

While the IRGC is designated as a “foreign terrorist group” by the US, European countries have so far been hesitant to push ahead with the move due to legal issues.

The issue came back into the limelight in recent months in the wake of protests in Iran triggered by the death of a young woman in police custody, arrest of a number of European nationals as well as reports about Iran’s drone supplies to close ally Russia.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also announced her support for blacklisting the IRGC last week, after top officials of France, Britain and Germany said they were considering the move.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said earlier this month that a new round of sanctions against Iran would not be enough, backing the move to designate the IRGC.

“Listing the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization is politically important and makes sense,” she wrote on Twitter, while also referring to legal obstacles.

In his phone call with the European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Thursday, Amir-Abdollahian termed the move to blacklist the IRGC as “inappropriate”, adding that the European Parliament “shot itself in the foot” with the move.

He also warned of a “strong legal response” to the move, while urging the European Parliament to “consider its adverse consequences”.

On Saturday, the heads of three branches of the Iranian government during their weekly meeting dubbed the EU’s move as “part of the bigger anti-Iran hybrid war”.

President Ebrahim Raisi in separate remarks said the move was “out of desperation” and “against the UN Charter”.

The row over the IRGC listing is likely to further escalate tensions between Iran and the West amid a stalemate at talks in Vienna to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal.

Source: AA