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All options on table if Guards blacklisted: Iran

LONDON

Iran told the United States on Tuesday that it will keep “all options on table” if President Donald Trump designates its elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation.

It came a day after the government said Washington itself would be aiding terrorism if it took such an action.

US President Donald Trump is expected to announce this week his final decision on how he wants to contain Iran’s regional influence. He is also expected to designate Iran’s most powerful security force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp as a terrorist organisation.

US sanctions on the IRGC could affect conflicts in Iraq and Syria, where Teheran and Washington support warring parties that oppose Daish.

“The Americans … are too small to be able to harm the Revolutionary Guards,” Ali Akbar Velayati, the top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying by Isna.

“We have all options on the table. Whatever they do, we will take reciprocal measures,” he added.

Iranian government spokesman also said that the world should be “thankful” to the Revolutionary Guards for its fight against Daish and other terrorist groups.

“By taking a stance against the Revolutionary Guards and designating it a terrorist group, the Americans would be joining the terrorists’ camp,” Mohammad Baqer Nobakht said in a weekly news conference broadcast live on state television.

Trump is expected to “decertify” a landmark 2015 deal Iran struck with world powers to curb its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of most international sanctions.

Trump’s announcement would stop short of pulling out of the agreement but give Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions.

IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Sunday that if Washington designated the Guards a terrorist organisation, they “will consider the American army to be like Daish all around the world.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said on Monday that Teheran would give a “firm, decisive and crushing” response if the United States goes ahead with such a plan.

US sanctions on the IRGC could affect conflicts in Iraq and Syria, where Teheran and Washington support warring parties that oppose Daish.

Analysts say such a move would have a very limited impact on the Guards, who are already subject to a wide range of sanctions and whose external operations arm — the Qods Force — is already designated as a terrorist organisation.

But Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi threatened a “firm, decisive and crushing” response if it went ahead.

The threat also appears to have unified Iran’s establishment, which have often been bitterly divided over the current government’s efforts to improve ties with the West.

Agencies