(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, prompting the IRGC’s commander to vow to double down on its ballistic missile program.
In line with sanctions legislation signed by President Trump in August, the Treasury updated its list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs), adding a range of IRGC divisions, linked organizations, and senior officers. U.S. citizens may not do business with SDNs, whose assets are also blocked by the U.S. government.
IRGC commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari – one of those listed – told a conference in Tehran that the true goal of the sanctions was not to punish the IRGC or its missile activity but to undermine Iran’s economy.
“The U.S. should know that more economic pressures and sanctions will increase the Iranian nation’s determination to increase its defense and missile power, and they will see an increase in the range and precision-striking power of [Iran’s] missiles,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted him as saying.
Jafari told reporters on the sidelines of the event – a conference entitled “A World Free of Terror” – that Iran would not be coerced to compromise its stances.
“Our nation cannot be forced to compromise and negotiate,” he said. “The nation has showed that it will take revenge from the enemy if it gets fed up.”
The Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CATS), which imposes new sanctions on Iran as well as on Russia and North Korea, required the administration to designate the IRGC under Executive Order 13224, a directive issued after 9/11 to counter terrorist funding.
That action – the first time the IRGC has been targeted for U.S. sanctions specifically for terrorism – was taken on October 13.
Tuesday’s follow-on action, under the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, blocks the property and interests of those who have been identified as officials, agents, or affiliates of the IRGC.
Among the entities targeted are the IRGC Air Force, the IRGC’s notorious Basin militia, the IRGC Aerospace Force Self Sufficiency Jihad Organization, the IRGC’s Imam Hossein University, the Iran Marine Industrial Company, Mehr Bank, and Khatam al-Anbia (KAA), an industrial and engineering giant sanctioned in the past for activities relating to Iran’s nuclear program.
The IRGC comprises five main military elements: Ground, Navy, Aerospace, the Basij militia, and the external operations division, Qods Force. It is also deeply enmeshed in the Iranian economy, with interests across key sectors, from shipping to refineries to banking.
Iranian state media said the new sanctions were being imposed in flagrant violation of the nuclear deal Iran reached with the U.S. and five other powers in 2015.
In fact the nuclear deal eased nuclear-related sanctions only – a point made repeatedly by the Obama administration as it promoted the agreement to the U.S. Congress and people.
The individuals added to the SDN list on Tuesday are a who’s who of the IRGC command hierarchy, past and present. Apart from Jafari they include:
--Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, a former IRGC commander who serves as military advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
--Brig. Gen. Ahmed Foruzandeh, deputy commander of the Qods Force “Ramadan Garrison,” who was designated by the U.S. government in 2008 for leading terrorist operations against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq
--Gen. Mohammad Hejazi, Basij commander
--Hossein Taeb, former Basij commander and head of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization
--Brig. Gen. Morteza Rezaie, former deputy IRGC commander
--Brig. Gen. Rostam Qasemi, former head of the KAA, and minister of oil in the cabinet of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
--Brig. Gen. Mohammed Reza Naqdi, former Basij commander
--Brig. Gen. Parviz Fattah, a former deputy director of KAA and director of the IRGC Cooperative Foundation, and energy minister in Ahmadinejad cabinet
--Lt. Cdr. Abdollah Araghi, deputy commander of the IRGC Ground Forces, who was sanctioned by the European Union for a leading role in the violent crackdown on dissent after Ahmadinejad’s contested 2009 re-election.
The exiled Iranian opposition group National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) welcomed the administration’s action Tuesday, but called for sanctions to be extended too to the commanders of IRGC in Iran’s 31 provinces, whom it said “are responsible for suppressing the population.”
The NCRI said it hoped the European Union would join the U.S. in sanctioning the IRGC.
“A major part of the Iranian economy is controlled by the IRGC and therefore [business] deals with the IRGC are tantamount to fueling its belligerence, its terror and suppression machine, the expansion of its nuclear weapons program and the proliferation of ballistic missiles,” it said.