President Trump’s formal designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization the other day is a very big deal – and a welcome move. As the New York Times reported, the designation imposes wide-ranging criminal, economic and travel sanctions on the group, as well as on the organizations, companies and individuals it works with in carrying out a broad range of operations domestically and internationally – which includes training Arab Shiite militias and providing support for a network of international terrorism.
The impact on the Iranian economy will undoubtedly be dramatic.
But it is important to note that focusing on the IRGC will also address two of the serious flaws in the 2015 nuclear agreement, the JCPOA. Recall that the Obama administration declined to include the issues of Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile development and its fomenting and supporting global terror. Afterward, the world witnessed the spectacle of Iran continuing to test ICBM’s – which were a key component of the Iranian nuclear threat – with impunity, and continuing unfettered in its effort to export terror across the world, with the West taking a virtual hands-off attitude because Iran appeared to agree to stall its nuclear development. And it is the IRGC that for years oversaw Iranian missile development, plays a role in its nuclear agenda, and is in charge of Iran’s global terror effort.
Those cooperating with the IRGC in assisting it in its work in the future will do so at their great peril.
Some in the State Department have opposed the new designation, citing Iranian threats of retaliation (among other things, Iran said it would designate the United States Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East, as a terrorist group). Not only would this open up its personnel to Iranian legal action across the world, but it would also likely be seized upon by Iranian allies as justification for targeting them in other ways.
But the new action seems a perfectly logical next step. All of the Iranian threats and dire predictions that preceded the unilateral U.S. withdrawal from JCPOA came to naught. The U.S. re-imposed sanctions on Iran that were withdrawn as part of the JCPOA agreement. The withdrawal from JCPOA untied America’s hands to be able to deal with Iranian missile test cheating. The U.S. is now well positioned to deal with the Iranian missile development and promotion of global terror.