(CNSNews.com) - "Today, I am formally announcing my Administration’s plan to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including its Qods Force, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act," President Trump said Monday in a statement released by the White House.
"This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft. The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign."
President Trump noted that this is the first time the United States has ever named a part of another government as an FTO: "It underscores the fact that Iran’s actions are fundamentally different from those of other governments. This action will significantly expand the scope and scale of our maximum pressure on the Iranian regime. It makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC. If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism."
The White House said it will continue to increase financial pressure on Iran until it abandons its "malign and outlaw behavior."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at the State Department Monday, called the leaders of Iran "racketeers, not revolutionaries."
"For 40 years, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has actively engaged in terrorism and created, supported and directed other terrorist groups. The IRGC masquerades as a legitimate military organization, but none of us should be fooled. It regularly violates the laws of armed conflict; it plans, organizes and executes terror campaigns all around the world," Pompeo said.
"From the moment it was founded, the IRGC's mandate was to defend and export the regime's revolution by whatever means possible."
Pompeo said the Trump administration, in designating the IRGC, is "simply recognizing a basic reality."
He gave examples from a "long list" of IRGC-backed terror attacks.
An FTO designation makes it “unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide ‘material support or resources’ to a designated FTO.”
As CNSNews.com previously reported, the IRGC was established as the “guardian of the Islamic Revolution” after the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Three years later, an IRGC force deployed to Lebanon oversaw the creation of Hezbollah, the Shi’ite terrorist group which the following year was the principal suspect in deadly bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut.