Terror Designation

Israel: Declaring IRGC as terrorists is ‘initial price’ Iran must pay

The U.S. declared the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization in 2019


Israel's war cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd L), meets Sunday to discuss the drone attack launched by Iran in Tel Aviv.

From Canberra to Buenos Aires, Israeli diplomats across the world are on a mission to get countries to declare the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, following Iran’s missile and drone attack on Israel over the weekend.

“Iran must pay a price for its aggression,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lior Haiat posted on Sunday, the day after Iran launched hundreds of missiles and drones toward Israel. “The initial price must be the immediate recognition of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps — which launched the extensive terrorist attack last night — as a terrorist organization.”

Israel’s envoys around the world, as well as Foreign Minister Israel Katz, immediately began work on exacting that “initial price.” In what he called a “diplomatic offensive,” Katz contacted his counterparts by phone and through letters to 32 countries in Europe and South America as well as Australia to call on them to declare the IRGC a terrorist organization “as a way to curb and weaken Iran.”

”Iran must be stopped now — before it’s too late,” Katz posted.

The further sanctioning of the IRGC would make it more difficult for Iran to build up weapons and would also serve as a show of Western unity with Israel following the attack on Sunday.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman told Jewish Insider that all of Israel’s diplomats abroad had been instructed to push an IRGC ban, with a focus on friendly states where such a move would be more likely to pass, as well as influential countries such as the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

Katz spoke with U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron and French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné, telling them, “It’s your time to weaken the Iranian regime, to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organization, and to impose crippling sanctions on the Iranian missile project. Iran must pay a price,” according to his readout of the calls.

Since then, the British press has reported that cabinet ministers have been discussing proscribing the IRGC as a terrorist organization, and when asked about it by the BBC, Cameron said: “We’ve sanctioned the IRGC…in its entirety and we’ll continue to look at what further steps we can do.” 

Labour’s shadow defense secretary, John Healey, told The Guardian that doing so would be “responsible,” because the Revolutionary Guard is “the leading edge of the threat that Iran poses not just to Israel, but to Arab countries and Western interests right across the region.” 

The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, wrote to U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak thanking him for the Royal Air Force’s role in shooting down Iranian drones and missiles launched at Israel and urging the government to declare IRGC a terrorist organization, calling it a threat “both to Iranian dissidents in this country – one of whom was stabbed outside his own home last month – and to the Jewish community.” 

In the days before the Iranian attack on Israel, Katz publicly called on the European Union to declare the IRGC a terrorist organization, after they seized a Portuguese civilian ship, claiming it was Israeli, and for Argentina to do the same, following a court ruling that Iran and Hezbollah were responsible for the terrorist attacks on the Israeli Embassy and at the AMIA Jewish community center, in which a combined 114 people were murdered.

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan wrote to U.N. Security Council President Vanessa Frazier immediately following Iran’s attack on Israel calling for a meeting to condemn Iran and “immediately act to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization.” 

“Today the council must take action,” Erdan said at the UNSC meeting on Sunday. “Condemn Iran for their terror. Trigger the snapback mechanism and reimpose crippling sanctions. Designate the IRGC as a terror organization. Action must be taken now, not for Israel’s sake, not for the region’s sake, but for the world’s sake. Stop Iran today.”

In Canada, Israeli Ambassador Iddo Moed said that designating the IRGC “needs to happen now, it has to happen today.” Like the U.K., Canada has sanctions on the IRGC and its most senior members, but has not banned the entire organization. Still, in January, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was weighing listing the IRGC as a terrorist group “to hold the regime to account.” 

Israeli Deputy Ambassador to Australia Chris Cantor briefed journalists on Monday, saying that Israel plans to request that the government designate the IRGC a terrorist organization.

“The aim here is to minimize the Iranian threat,” Cantor said, calling for “extreme measures from the international community.” 

An Australian government spokesperson said, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, that “the IRGC has long been a threat to international security and the Albanese government is intent on making it face consequences for its actions,” referring to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

The U.S. declared the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization in 2019, but it has been under U.S. sanctions since 2007. The terrorist designation made it easier to prevent terrorists from entering the U.S. by denying visas to current and former IRGC members, and it allows for criminal charges against third parties who do not comply with the sanctions. The designation made the IRGC the only foreign state entity out of 67 militant factions on the State Department’s foreign terrorist organizations list.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain proscribed the IRGC about six months before the U.S. did. 

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