US may designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorists
The US has indicated that it may act unilaterally if the UN doesn't approve further sanctions.
Tensions between the US and Iran continue to mount. The US has long taken a dim view of the Islamic nation's nuclear program and charged that Iran is actively contributing to chaos in Iraq. Now, US officials are considering designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the largest branch of that country's military, a terrorist organization. In the background is the ongoing debate within the Bush administration about whether to take a conciliatory approach with Iran or seek to intensify the country's international isolation.Skip to next paragraph
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European diplomats say that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has cautioned them that if UN Security Council approval to increase economic sanctions on Iran is delayed, the US will have little other option but to act unilaterally, reports The New York Times.
A move toward putting the Revolutionary Guard on the foreign terrorist list would serve at least two purposes for Ms. Rice: to pacify, for a while, administration hawks who are pushing for possible military action, and to further press America's allies to ratchet up sanctions against Iran in the Security Council.
Senior administration officials said current plans called for the declaration to be made this month, but cautioned that it could be put off, and that the effort could still be set aside if the Security Council moved more quickly to impose broad sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.
Though Iran continues to insist that its disputed nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes only, there are signs of growing skepticism about the program from Russia. The nation has been helping Iran to build a nuclear reactor and has been less tough in its stance on the Islamic nation than either the US or the European Union, reports the Associated Press.
Russia warned in March that it would not provide fuel rods for the reactor it is building in the southern city of Bushehr as long as Iran ignored U.N. Security Council demands that it freeze uranium enrichment, diplomats said.
Now, Moscow has modified that demand, saying no fuel will be provided unless Iran meets another key international request — that it fully explain past activities that heightened suspicions it might be looking to develop a nuclear arms program, two diplomats familiar with Iran's nuclear file told The Associated Press.
Iran has not been sitting idly by, strengthening its ties to two neighbors – Iraq and Afghanistan – that also host large US military presences, as the Los Angeles Times reports.
Now, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has forged cordial relationships with Iraq's new Shi'ite-dominated government and with (Afghan President Hamid) Karzai. Last week, the Afghan president rebuffed President Bush's attempts to characterize Iran as a destabilizing force in the region, contending on CNN that Iran had been "a helper" on fighting terrorism and narcotics.
Just as worrisome for Sunni Arab governments in the Middle East, Ahmadinejad's tough talk against the United States and Israel has won Iran unexpected and growing popularity in the Sunni Muslim world.