Iran’s foreign minister says EU foreign policy chief’s hints that the body would not list IRGC as a terrorist outfit proves that the bloc is not seeking to take costly measures.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks on Monday, hours after comments by Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who said the EU cannot list Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist entity until an EU court has determined that they are.
On Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani reiterated that the plan to designate the IRGC as a terror group violates the UN Charter, dismissing the European Parliament resolution as an “irresponsible and illogical” move.
Following an overwhelming vote last week, the European Parliament called on the EU to list the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity, blaming it for the repression of domestic protests and the supply of drones to Russia.
"On Iran, we are going to discuss new personal sanctions according with the legal framework on human rights,” Borrell said, emphasizing that the court of an EU member had to issue a concrete legal condemnation before the EU could designate the IRGC as a terror group.
On the sidelines of the EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said that “regarding the IRCG, may I remind you that they are already as a group under sanction since 2010 because of their participation in proliferation activities related to weapons of mass destruction. Now we are considering, but this is not a decision to be made today, we're considering to sanction them under another regime. We're looking closely at it and nothing is ruled out."
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna
However, the EU on Monday introduced a new package of sanctions against 18 individuals and 19 entities for a "brutal" crackdown on protests, ignited by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
“Among the persons enlisted are representatives of the government and the Iranian parliament (Majles), important political and media figures, as well as high-ranking members of the Iranian security forces, including of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),” EU said.
Restrictive EU measures now apply to a total of 164 individuals and 31 entities. They consist of an asset freeze, a travel ban to the EU, and a prohibition to make funds or economic resources available to those listed, read a statement by the EU council. “A ban on exports to Iran of equipment, which might be used for internal repression, and of equipment for monitoring telecommunications, is also in place.”
Earlier in the day, UK also sanctioned more Iranian figures over human rights violations including the recent execution of British-Iranian dual national Alireza Akbari.
In coordination with Britain and the EU, the United States imposed sanctions on IRGC’s Cooperative Foundation and senior Iranian officials on Monday, stepping up pressure on Tehran over its crackdown on protests.
Monday's action targets a "key economic pillar of the IRGC, which funds much of the regime’s brutal suppression; as well as senior security officials coordinating Tehran’s crackdown at the national and provincial levels," the US Treasury Department said in a statement.
The Treasury described the IRGC Cooperative Foundation as an economic conglomerate established by senior officials of the group to manage its investments and presence in sectors of Iran's economy. The Treasury also accused the IRGC outfit of having become "a wellspring of corruption and graft" and said funds from it have supported the IRGC's military adventures abroad.
"Along with our partners, we will continue to hold the Iranian regime accountable so long as it relies upon violence, sham trials, the execution of protestors, and other means of suppressing its people," the Treasury's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement.
Relations between the 27-nation EU and Tehran have deteriorated during stalled efforts to revive talks on its nuclear program, worsening further as Iran has moved to detain several European nationals.
The United States has said it is not pursuing the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, or the JCPOA, and instead its attention is on the popular movement in Iran and on Tehran’s supply of drones and missiles to Russia.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani
During his speech on Monday, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman also talked about the negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, saying the absence of new rounds of talks “does not mean the absence of interaction or exchange of messages and views.” He noted that the talks serve the interests of both sides. The spokesman, however, stressed that there are no direct talks between Tehran and Washington.
As part of the threats that the Iranian officials are issuing to Europe, the country’s parliament also called on the government to retaliate against any punitive measures adopted by the EU.
Speaking on the sidelines of a closed session of the parliament on Sunday, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran can withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and ban nuclear inspectors of the UN nuclear agency as countermeasures against the EU’s move against the IRGC.
The ties between Iran and the West have been growing increasingly sour in recent months over the regime’s human rights violations, its support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, its uncooperative approach about the nuclear issues and its destabilizing activities across the region, and its hostage diplomacy.