The United States has decided to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's 125,000-strong elite military branch as a "specially designated global terrorist," the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The Bush administration has chosen to move against the Revolutionary Guard because of what U.S. officials have described as its growing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as its support for extremists throughout the Middle East, unidentified U.S. officials were quoted as saying.
The decision follows congressional pressure on the Bush administration to toughen its stance against Tehran, as well as U.S. frustration with the ineffectiveness of U.N. resolutions against Iran's nuclear program, the officials said.
The designation of the Revolutionary Guard will be made under Executive Order 13224, which President George W. Bush signed two weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to obstruct terrorist funding.
The main goal of the new designation is to clamp down on the Revolutionary Guard's vast business network, as well as on foreign companies conducting business linked to the military unit and its personnel.
It authorizes the U.S. to identify individuals, businesses, charities and extremist groups engaged in terrorist activities.
The Revolutionary Guard would be the first national military branch included on the list, U.S. officials said.
The move reflects escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran over issues including Iraq and Iran's nuclear ambitions, the report said.
Iran has been on the U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1984, but in May 2007 the two countries began their first formal one-on-one dialogue in 28 years with a meeting of diplomats in Baghdad.