Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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EU Considers Designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard as Terrorist Organization

Monday 30/January/2023 - 04:22 PM
The Reference
By: Ahmed Seif El-Din

EU Policy Shift on Iran's Revolutionary Guard

The European Union (EU) is considering designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. This move, which is supported by France and Germany, both parties to the international nuclear agreement with Iran, is a response to Iran's supply of armed drones to Russia and its violent crackdown on domestic protests. The EU’s legal service will provide an opinion on the legality of the measure within three weeks. The EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, stated that many member states support this proposal.

Importance of France and Germany's Support

The support of France and Germany for the measure highlights the hardening stance of western capitals towards Iran. The UK is already reviewing the possibility of imposing the designation on the Revolutionary Guard, the most powerful wing of Iran’s state security apparatus. Germany and France, along with the UK, Russia and China, are signatories to the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers. France is considering designating certain regional divisions of the guards as terrorist entities. Germany's foreign ministry stated there are high legal hurdles for such a designation.

Borrell Leads Indirect Talks between US and Iran

Borrell, supported by Paris, Berlin, and London, is the lead mediator of indirect talks between the US and Iran aimed at saving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The JCPOA placed strict limits on Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for the lifting of western sanctions. After the US withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, Iran expanded its nuclear program. Western governments have tried to separate the nuclear talks from other concerns related to Iran, but this has shifted as the West becomes more angered by Iran’s actions.

Threat to JCPOA Negotiations

Borrell warned that prospects for JCPOA-related negotiations, which are already remote, would collapse if the EU proceeds with the terrorist designation against the Revolutionary Guard. He stated that the JCPOA is the only way to prevent Iran from developing the capacity to produce nuclear weapons. No nuclear talks have been held since September, when Iran was blamed for rejecting a draft agreement to save the JCPOA. The 120,000-strong Revolutionary Guard was established to protect Iran from domestic and foreign threats. Western nations often blame the Guard for stoking tensions in the Middle East.

Legal Arguments against the Revolutionary Guard

Western diplomats in Tehran have stated that actions such as Iran's killing of dissidents on European soil and recent years could be used as legal arguments against the Revolutionary Guard. The EU and Britain are likely to take collective action to make any Iranian retaliation more costly for the Islamic regime. The Trump administration designated the Guard as a terrorist organization in 2019. The European parliament passed a resolution this month calling on member states to implement the terrorist designation. Iranian politicians have warned that such a move would legitimize potential future actions against EU states by the Revolutionary Guard.