The Iranian government says the Islamic Republic will take “reciprocal measures” if the European Union lists the powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, after the European Parliament called for such a move amid a bloody crackdown on anti-government demonstrations.
“It is necessary to respect mutual security in the world of diplomacy and increase mutual trust instead of following the language of threats and unfriendly actions. In any case of a terrorist listing, Iran will take reciprocal measures,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, state media reported on January 19.
The minister issued the warning a day after European lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to call on the bloc to include the IRGC and its affiliates, including the paramilitary Basij militia and the expeditionary Quds Force, on the EU list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts.
The MEPs blamed the Islamic Republic for the “brutal” repression of the nationwide protests triggered by the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police and the supply of Iranian drones to Russia’s military engaged in Ukraine.
“We have repeatedly said the Revolutionary Guards are a formal and sovereign organization whose role is central for guaranteeing Iran’s security,” Amirabdollahian said.
“Steps taken by the European Parliament to list the organization as terrorist are in a way a shot in the foot of Europe itself.”
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 young men were hanged earlier this month amid international outrage, bringing to four the number of people executed so far.
The EU has imposed three rounds of sanctions against the Islamic Republic over the clampdown on protests and its supply of drones to Russia.
Adding the IRGC to the EU terrorist list must be decided unanimously by the bloc’s heads of state and government.
The IRGC's designation would mean that it would become a criminal offence to belong to the force and attend its meetings.
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.
The EU has already listed the IRGC’s Aerospace Force as a terrorist entity for its role in supplying Iranian drones to Russia.