Part 6: Iranian Officials React to IRGC Designation

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) responded to the State Department’s designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization by designating the U.S. government as a state sponsor of terrorism and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and all its forces as a terrorist organization. “It is evident that the regime of the United States of America holds full responsibility for the dangerous consequences of this adventurous action,” the SNSC statement concluded. The SNSC is the one formal body that brings most of Iran's top national security decision-makers together, including the IRGC commander.


Iranian leaders individually denounced the IRGC designation. In an address to IRGC members, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said such plots by the United States won’t get them anywhere. “Their vice and deceit will return boomerang on them, leading the enemies of the Islamic Republic such as Trump and those around him at the U.S. ruling apparatus to go down the drain,” he warned.

President Hassan Rouhani threatened to restart Iran’s nuclear program in a speech marking the National Day of Nuclear Technology. “You were afraid of IR1 centrifuges, today we unveiled IR6, and if you continue to walk down this road, you will see IR8 in the near future,” he said. Centrifuges are used to enrich uranium and could be critical to producing a weapons-grade material to fuel a bomb, which is why the 2015 nuclear set limits on Iran’s centrifuge use, research and development. Rouhani also accused the United States of terrorism for the USS Vincennes’ shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988, which killed 290 passengers and crew. The U.S. vessel mistakenly identified the airliner as a military craft.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the Trump Administration of designating the IRGC to boost Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces an election on April 9. “#NetanyahuFirsters who have long agitated for FTO designation of the IRGC fully understand its consequences for US forces in the region. In fact, they seek to drag US into a quagmire on his behalf,” Zarif said in a tweet. Netanyahu had thanked Trump in a tweet for “responding to another important request of mine.”

Members of Iran’s Parliament, including Speaker Ali Larijani, dressed in IRGC uniforms on April 9, and chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” during their session.


The following are reactions by Iranian officials.


Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Statement

The Supreme National Security Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran, while registering severe condemnation of the illegal and dangerous action of the regime of the United States of America in placing the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” regards this baseless step as a major danger to regional and international peace and security and an obvious violation of international norms and the United Nations Charter. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, unlike America and its regional allies, which have always been supporters of extremist and terrorist groups in the region of West Asia, has continuously been on the front line against terrorism and extremism in the region, and the role of this self-sacrificing and revolutionary force against Al Qaeda, Daesh, Al Nusra and the rest of the terrorist groups in the region is always gratefully acknowledged by the affected people and governments.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, in reciprocation against the illegal and irrational action that America declared today, regards the regime of the United States of America as a state sponsor of terrorism, and regards the American central command, named CENTCOM, and all of the forces dependent on it, as a terrorist group. This command has responsibility for the execution of the terrorist policies of the American government against the region of West Asia. The imposition of the United States’ hostile policies endangers the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the lives of innocent Iranian and non-Iranian people. The barbaric and intentional attack on an Iranian passenger plane in 1988 and [U.S.] participation in the massacre of the people of Yemen and other civilians in West Asia can be given as examples. It is evident that the regime of the United States of America holds full responsibility for the dangerous consequences of this adventurous action.

―Apr. 8, 2019, as published by Iranian state media (translation by John Caves)


Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Khamenei“The U.S. and other ignorant enemies have done anything they could against the Islamic Republic of Iran, yet they failed to achieve a single thing. Today, the Revolution and the Islamic Establishment have become powerful in the region and the world.”

“The IRGC leads the fight in operational fields, confronting the enemies at our borders; and even thousands of kilometers away from the frontiers, around the shrine of Lady Zainab; as well as in political confrontations with enemies.”

“U.S. officials wishfully plot against the IRGC and actually against the Islamic Revolution and maneuver mischief. Undoubtedly, such ferocities won’t get them anywhere. Their vice and deceit will return boomerang on them, leading the enemies of the Islamic Republic such as Trump and those around him at the U.S. ruling apparatus to go down the drain.”

“For forty years, the enemies of beloved Iran have imposed great amounts of all types of political, economic and propaganda pressure on the nation; yet they have failed to achieve anything even when the revolution was newly formed.”

“Contrary to the assumptions of the enemies, the dignity and power of the Islamic establishment today do not emerge from atomic bombs, as from the beginning we have emphasized that nuclear weapons violate our religious principles and we do not need nukes. Thus, today’s dignity and sovereignty of the Iranian nation in the eyes of the Muslim world derives from the people’s resistance, self-sacrifice, and insightful awareness.”

“Undoubtedly, the Revolution will progress, but everyone—including people from all walks of life, in particular the young individuals, as well as the IRGC, the Armed Forces and government agencies—should appropriately identify their roles and follow the pious role models offered by divine figures, such as the noble Imam Khomeini (r.a.), to act for the cause of God and perform their duties.”

―Apr. 9, 2019, in a meeting with IRGC staff


President Hassan Rouhani

“The culture of Imam Hossein (PBUH) has been the main factor of great victories of Muslim nations, especially the great Iranian nation against many conspiracies.”

“After the victory of the glorious revolution in Iran, many enemies in the region and the world wanted our revolution not to last more than a few weeks and months, so they hatched plots against us, one of which was forming a campaign of terror against the Iranian nation. The enemies of the Revolution formed and trained terrorist groups and sponsored them to kill our people and officials, so that Iran would return to the days when it was under the American domination. At that time, we needed a pious, devoted corps to stand against the U.S. and guarantee peace and security for Iran.”

“The day our enemies imposed the [Iran-Iraq] war on us, announcing that they would have an interview in Iran the next week, all forces, at the top of them the IRGC, stood against the enemies that were armed to the teeth.”

Hassan Rouhani

“Today, the global imperialism and the U.S. want to show their grudge and hostility by designating a group whose greatest goal has been to fight terrorism as terrorist.”

“IRGC rooted out terrorists in Iran with their devotion and self-sacrifice. The remaining terrorists fled to Saddam, who are now supported by the U.S. and Zionists. Whenever Iraq and Syria called for our help in fighting terrorists and ISIS, we did not hesitate an hour and the Iranian nation and the IRGC rushed to the help of Iraq and the Iraqi nation the night when Erbil and Suleimani were falling. The same IRGC that has been fighting terrorism since the first day of its formation and has given many lives in this path, the last of which was the recent incident in Khash-Zahedan road by U.S. mercenaries, is being called terrorist by the enemies of the Iranian nation.”

“The U.S. is not still ready to fight ISIS, and is sheltering their heads, supporting terrorist groups.”

“You use terrorist groups against the peoples of the region, and yet claim to have been fighting terrorism? You are at the top of terrorism in the entire world. What force was it that shot down our passenger plane over the Persian Gulf waters? You have always interfered in regional affairs, working against the people in this region. After shooting down our airliner, you claimed afterwards that you mistook it as an F14 fighter, which is a childish claim. With this terrorist act, you wanted to say that you do not recognise any red lines, and kill women and children. Your message was supporting terrorism in the region.”

“What goal are you pursuing by the economic sanctions against the Iranian nation? If you claim that you can stop Iran’s progress and nuclear technology development through sanctions, you are gravely mistaken.”

“Today’s unveilings clearly tell the enemies of the Iranian nation that they could not, and cannot, stop Iranian nation from developing. You were afraid of IR1 centrifuges, today we unveiled IR6, and if you continue to walk down this road, you will see IR8 in the near future. If you want to limit Iran’s military power, you know that we have developed missiles since last year that you wouldn’t even imagine.”

“You thought that if you designate IRGC as a terrorist group anybody would accept that from you? Where has the inexperienced administration in the U.S. been successful in the past two years?”

“When announcing sanctions against the Iranian nation, you claimed that Iran would be devastated by summer, extending it to Christmas, February 11, and then the new year. You were, and are always, gravely mistaken. You thought that if you speak against the IRGC, divisions would arise or you could reduce its popularity, but from today, IRGC’s popularity with Iranians and the region will rise, and Iran is more integrated than ever against you. Today, nobody in Iran supports your treacherous, outrageous government, and if you wanted to stop the Iranian government and state from pursuing its goals through sanctions, dominating Iran and the region, be sure that you are mistaken.”

“Today, we have the best relations with regional and neighbouring countries, except for a couple of countries who are responsible for the lack of relations, and we are ready to have good relations with all regional countries.”

“One of the P5+1 members violated all its commitments (regarding the 2015 nuclear deal) and proved that it is not trustworthy, therefore, we tell the remaining members that they have to focus on their responsibilities. We have waited and will continue to do so, but our patience has a threshold that if reached, the Iranian government and state may take steps, so think about that day. Our waiting does not come from our weakness, but from our prudence and the interests of the Iranian nation and the region, and we have feat of anybody. Our path is a right one and we hope that others understand that history will judge them, so you live up to your commitments.”

“The Atomic Energy Organisation proved that U.S. cannot stop Iran’s development.”

―Apr. 9, 2019, in a speech marking the National Day of Nuclear Technology


Foreign Minister Javad Zarif


Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi

“A country, which has nothing in its record but arming, leading and granting refuge to terrorist currents, regards as terrorist the official armed force of another country that has always been the pioneer in helping people and defending Islamic movements.”

“Although this (possible) measure would have no political or legal value for governments and nations of the world… it would be proper that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Supreme National Security Council counteract it.”

―Apr. 8, 2019, addressing a meeting of judiciary officials in Tehran


Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani

“This behavior of the US regime, which has shamelessly declared the IRGC as a terrorist group these days, reflects the depth of the hostility, idiocy and ignorance of this regime. Who is unaware that the IRGC has dealt the most blows to dangerous terrorism in the region?”

―Apr. 9, 2019, in an address to parliament


IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari

“If the Americans make such a silly move and endanger our national security, we will implement and put reciprocal measures on our agenda based on the policies of Iran's Islamic establishment.”

―Apr. 7, 2019, as reported by Iranian state media


Iranian Parliament

“We will answer any action taken against this force with a reciprocal action. So the leaders of America, who themselves are the creators and supporters of terrorists in the [Middle East] region, will regret this inappropriate and idiotic action.”

―Apr. 7, 2019, in a resolution passed by 255 of 290 MPs in anticipation of such a move


John Caves, a research assistant at the U.S. Institute of Peace, contributed to this roundup and translated the SNSC statement. 


Part 1: Trump, Pompeo on IRGC as “Terrorists”

Part 2: Fact Sheets on IRGC, Qods Force

Part 3: What Will IRGC Designation Actually Do?

Part 4: Experts on IRGC Designation

Part 5: How Might Tehran Respond to IRGC Designation?


Photo Credit: Iranian lawmakers by Erfan Kouchari for Tasnim News Agency  (CC BY 4.0)
Some of the information in this article was originally published on April 9, 2019.