Republican Lawmakers Urge European Union to Designate Iran Revolutionary Guard as Terror Group
by Dion J. Pierre
Twelve Republican US Senators on Wednesday joined a worldwide chorus urging the European Union to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.
Following a letter by over 100 EU parliamentarians, the European Parliament had voted 598-9 to do so in January, but the European Council instead added eighteen Iranian individuals and 19 entities to its EU Terror List instead, sanctioning them with asset freezes, as well as a ban on traveling to the EU and receiving any economic resources from its citizens. Josep Borell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said that at the time that an EU member state’s court would first have to conclude that the IRGC is, in fact, guilty of terrorism, before such a determination could be made.
Wednesday’s letter said the sanctions insufficiently address the IRGC poses, noting that the US designated it as a terrorist group in 2019. Similar action by the EU, they argued, would “cripple the IRGC’s ability to promote terrorism” and counter Russian operations in Ukraine, which, according to the Arms Control Association, a nonpartisan nonprofit based in Washington DC, have been materially supported by Iran with weapons and military personnel.
“Amidst the IRGC’s ongoing support of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, EU reluctance both weakens our collective resolve against Russia and ignores the Iranian government’s goal of sowing terror in the West,” the letter said. “The growing alignment of Russian and Iranian activities, including the use of Iranian drones in Ukraine, makes the IRGC complicit in Russia’s terror. An IRGC terror designation will sharpen and align the US and EU responses to Russian aggression.”
The letter claimed that “there is sufficient evidence of IRGC malign conduct in Europe to warrant a terror designation,” and cited examples of IRGC terrorist plots on European soil, including a conspiracy to attack a synagogue in Sophia, German arrests of assassins hired by the IRGC in 2016 and 2022, and a detained IRGC operative’s revealing planned assassinations in France and Germany. Iran and Russia’s growing relationship also necessitates action, the letter continued, explaining that the EU Parliament already identified the Kremlin as a state sponsor of terrorism in Nov. 2022.
For months, hundreds of lawmakers across the Atlantic have called on the European Union to apply the terrorist label to both the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its network of proxy organizations for their alleged engagement in political violence, human rights abuses, and war crimes.
In December, 220 politicians from Europe, Canada, and the United States said in a statement said that it is needed, calling the IRGC “the world’s leading state sponsor of terror,” and in January, Israeli President Isaac Herzog echoed such concerns, explaining that Iran is aiding Russia’s war in Ukraine and “rushing toward nuclear capabilities.”
Signed by Sens. James E. Risch (R-ID), Tim Scott (R-SC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ted Cruz (R-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and others, Wednesday’s letter concluded by warning that both Iran and Russia present a clear and tangible threat to European and American collective security, saying “It is long past time cut off its resources before the next tragedy strikes.”
The missive comes amid rising tensions between the West and what foreign policy experts have described as the “revisionist powers” of China, Russia, and Iran, whose grand strategies are based on chipping away at and frustrating US power across the world.
In February, John F. Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said in November that “Iran shipped artillery and tank rounds to Russia for use in Ukraine” and “Russia has been offering Iran unprecedented defense cooperation, including on missiles, electronics, and air defense,” an action that could have significant, negative consequences in the region.
Most recently, the US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control, according to the Associated Press, sanctioned Iranian firms suspected of supplying equipment used for developing Iranian weapons. Four firms and three people in Iran and Turkey are accused of purchasing parts and engines, the latter of which were made in Europe, to aid in manufacturing Iranian drones.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.