The European Parliament overwhelmingly voted on January 18 to call on the European Union to include Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its affiliates on the bloc's terrorist list, amid a brutal state crackdown on anti-government demonstrations.
The move was backed by 598 lawmakers. Nine MEPs voted against it, with 31 abstentions.
The MEPs urged the European Council, which represents EU heads of state and government, to include the IRGC and its subsidiary forces, including the paramilitary Basij militia and the expeditionary Quds Force, on the EU list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts.
The IRGC controls large swathes of Iran’s economy and armed forces and is in charge of the Islamic Republic's ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
Currently, the EU only lists the IRGC’s Aerospace Force as a terrorist entity for its role in supplying Iranian drones to Russia.
The EU lawmakers condemned the ongoing crackdown by the Islamic Republic, including the IRGC, on nationwide protests triggered by the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police.
“As long as Revolutionary Guards terrorize their own people and the entire region, we should treat them as terrorists and put them on the sanctions list,” German MEP Hannah Neumann said ahead of the vote.
Iranian security forces have killed more than 500 people, including dozens of children, and detained over 18,000 in their crackdown on the protests, human rights activists say.
Around 20 people have been handed capital punishment in connection with the demonstrations. Two of them were hanged earlier this month amid international outrage, bringing to four the number of people executed so far.
The European Union is discussing a fourth round of sanctions against the Islamic Republic over the clampdown on protests and Iran’s supply of drones to Russia.
The decision to add the IRGC to the EU terrorist list lies with the EU Council, and it must be decided unanimously.
The IRGC's designation would mean that it would become a criminal offence to belong to the group and attend its meetings.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said this week that she supports designating the force.
“We are looking indeed at a new round of sanctions and I would support also listing the Revolutionary Guards. I have heard several ministers asking for that and I think they are right,” she told reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.