Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the United States had made “a vicious move” in designating the Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization, and Tehran vowed to take action against U.S. forces in the region, ONA reports citing Reuters.
U.S. President Donald Trump designated Iran’s Guards a foreign terrorist organization on Monday - a step that will raise tensions in the Middle East.
“They wish to plot against our Sepah (the Guard corps) ... it is in the frontline of confronting enemies of our (1979 Islamic) revolution and has always defended the country ... America has failed to block our advances,” Khamenei, who controls the Guards, was quoted as saying by the state media.
“In spite of all the pressure over the past 40 years, Americans have failed to do a damn thing and their vicious move will bear no fruit.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also defended the corps as protectors of Iran, saying in a televised speech that the United States “holds a grudge” against the Guards who have “sacrificed their lives to protect our people, our revolution”.
Comprising an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air units, the Guards also command the Basij, a religious volunteer paramilitary force, and control Iran’s missile programs. The Guards’ overseas Quds forces have fought Iran’s proxy wars in the region.
The U.S. has already blacklisted dozens of entities and people for affiliations with the Guards, but not the organization as a whole.
The head of Revolutionary Guards dismissed Washington’s designation of the force as a terrorist organization and said the Guards would increase their military capabilities.
“This U.S. move was quite laughable since the Revolutionary Guards are in people’s hearts ... The Revolutionary Guards will increase its defensive and offensive capabilities in the coming year,” commander Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster.
Trump’s move came after relations between Tehran and Washington took a turn for the worse last May, when the U.S. president pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, and reimposed sanctions.