US sanctions against Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for terrorist and economic activities
Washington (AsiaNews) – The United States on Thursday designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and its elite al-Qods force a supporter of terrorism. For this reason the US government imposed sanctions on more than 20 Iranian companies, banks and individuals as well as the defence ministry, in a bid to pressure Tehran to halt its nuclear program and curb its terrorist activities.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were created by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini right after the 1979 Revolution to safeguard the population’s Islamic and revolutionary character and fight its pro-Shah enemies as well as those from the extreme left.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the sanctions alongside Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
For quite some time the United States had accused the al-Qods force of arming and training Iraqi insurgents.
For Washington sanctions are designed to offset the Guards’ business activities which have grown thanks to the support of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former guard himself.
The Guards have their fingers in fact in all major infrastructural projects from gas and oil pipelines to subways, ports and dams.
The force, now believed to be 100,000 strong, co-operates with the regular armed forces but has its own top echelon and command structure with its own ground, sea and air forces, plus a few missile units.
Its missile capabilities have aroused the greatest international concern since its Shahab-3 long range missile has Israel and US bases in the Middle East within reach.
The Guards are also mandated to organise the large people’s militia known as the Basij which has 12 million volunteers who receive training at some 11,000 centres across the country.