Iran warned Monday of a “crushing” response if the US designates the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist entity.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said US plans to target the Revolutionary Guard, a powerful branch of the Iranian military, as part of punishments against the regime, would be a “grave and strategic mistake.”
“But if they do, our response will be firm, decisive and crushing and the US needs to accept the consequences,” Qasemi said at a press conference, according to Iranian media reports.
“I hope wise people in US will take necessary measures to stop this.”
Qasemi also described as “baseless” claims that Iran is working with North Korea on nuclear weapons development. Such accusations are, he said, “Iranophobia.”
The warning came the day after the chief of Revolutionary Guard threatened that if the United States designates the unit as a terrorist group, Iran will consider the US Army equivalent to the Islamic State terror group.
Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari also said that if new sanctions against Iran go into effect, the US will have to “find a new place for its military bases, 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) away, outside the range of Iranian missiles,” according to Iran’s official IRNA news agency.
“If reports on the US decision to enlist Iran’s IRGC as a terrorist group happen to be true, the Iranian force would also treat the American Army everywhere in the world and especially in the Middle East in the same way as Daesh (IS) terrorists,” he said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif also said Iran would issue an “appropriate response” to the move, vowing that the IRGC would not stop its activity.
The moves are expected to come in concert with a decision by US President Donald Trump to decertify Iranian compliance with the nuclear accord, while not dismantling the deal itself.
The move to target Iranian organizations allows Trump to show he is not easing the pressure against the Islamic Republic, even though the nuclear deal he has long criticized may continue.
The planned actions actions against Iran include financial sanctions on anyone who does business with the IRGC, as well as millions of dollars in rewards for information leading to the arrest of two operatives of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group.
They form part of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act passed in August which relates to Iran, Russia and North Korea.
It was reluctantly signed into law by Trump.
Currently, US military bases are located in countries neighboring Iran, less than 500 kilometers (310 miles) from Iran’s borders.
Revolutionary Guard troops are currently fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.