AFP: Iran angrily condemned on Wednesday as “worthless and invalid” a vote by the US House of Representatives branding its elite Revolutionary Guards force as a terrorist organization. TEHRAN (AFP) Iran angrily condemned on Wednesday as “worthless and invalid” a vote by the US House of Representatives branding its elite Revolutionary Guards force as a terrorist organization.
The vote came a month after it emerged that the administration of President George W. Bush was considering blacklisting the Guards, the Islamic republic’s ideological army and one of its key institutions.
“Branding the armed forces of a UN member as a terrorist group is a strange and unprecedented act. It is worthless and invalid,” foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said in an angry statement.
“These kinds of ill-considered decisions and baseless acts do not help in implementing peace and security in the world.”
On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill calling on the State Department to designate the Revolutionary Guards as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
The Bush administration had said in August it would designate all or part of the Guards as a terrorist organization in a bid to squeeze the economic power of the force’s increasingly influential commercial arms.
Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, in a rare public comment on foreign policy, said the vote showed Iran needed to be alert in the current situation.
“The bill should make all of us alert since we are confronted with threats and dangers,” he said, according to the Mehr and ISNA news agencies.
“I think that with Gods’s help and with national solidarity we will neutralise these threats but we have to be alert,” he added.
Khatami, whose comments contrasted with the outright dismissal of the US threat by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, accused the US House of “falling into the trap of the hawks and the extremists.”
The reemergence of the blacklisting issue comes amid increasing tensions between the United States and Iran over its nuclear programme, which Washington alleges is aimed at making a nuclear weapon but Tehran insists is peaceful.
The United States has never ruled out a military attack against Iran and Iranian military commanders have warned they will target US forces in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan if the Islamic republic is attacked.
It also coincided with a visit to New York by Ahmadinejad, who was given a hostile reception at a university on Monday but went on to give a trademark speech at the United Nations on Tuesday.
The Revolutionary Guards would be the first national military branch included on a US list of individuals and institutions linked to terrorism.
“Any kind of confrontation with this people’s force is equal to confronting the great Iranian nation, and the ones who are seeking to level allegations against the Guards are placing themselves against a 70-million strong nation,” warned Hosseini.
Washington accuses the Revolutionary Guards of stirring unrest in Iraq and supplying bombs for deadly attacks on US troops, and is seeking to cut off the force’s financial life-blood.
As well as being an elite military force with tens of thousands of troops, the Guards have also picked up billion-dollar building contracts for infrastructure Iran over the past years.
The Revolutionary Guards are also at the centre of Iran’s politics. Ahmadinejad is a former officer and has promoted several former Guards members to top posts since taking office in 2005.
The bill also envisages sanctions for foreign companies with US subsidiaries which invest in Iran, particularly in the oil and gas sectors and prohibits civilian nuclear cooperation with nations that support Iran’s nuclear drive.