WASHINGTON – In an effort to tighten pressure on Tehran, the Trump administration on Monday branded Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a foreign terrorist organization, a first-time designation against another nation’s military force that could create problems for U.S. forces abroad.

President Donald Trump issued the announcement from the White House, capping months of escalating rhetoric against Iran and a steady onslaught of sanctions meant to cripple that nation’s economy.

In a statement, Trump said the “unprecedented step ... recognizes the reality” that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard “actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”

He said the group, known as the IRGC, is “the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.”

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said the terrorist designation will take effect in one week.

Although the Revolutionary Guard plays a major role in the Iranian economy, the U.S. penalties may have limited impact. The designation, however, could significantly complicate U.S. military and diplomatic work, notably in Iraq, where many Shiite militias and Iraqi political parties have close ties to the guard.

U.S. military and intelligence officials have raised concerns that the designation may bar them from meeting foreign officials in contact with Revolutionary Guard personnel. Those concerns are one reason previous administrations did not make the move, which was considered for more than a decade.

The Trump administration has targeted what it calls Iran’s malign behavior since it took office, and withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord partly over those concerns. The administration cites Iran’s support for militant groups in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, as well as a perceived threat against Israel.

This is the first designation by any American administration of an entire foreign government entity, although portions of the Revolutionary Guard, notably its elite Quds Force, have been targeted previously by the United States.

The Revolutionary Guard “will take the same place on the list as the terrorist groups it supports,” Pompeo said.

Because terrorism “is the tool of statecraft” for Iran, Pompeo said, the administration deemed it was justified in taking the extreme measure. The guard, he said, is not just a sponsor of terrorism but an active participant.

The designation allows the Revolutionary Guard’s assets to be frozen abroad and will complicate efforts by European and Asian companies and governments to do business with Iran. The elite military group is involved in numerous aspects of the Iranian economy.

It also makes it a U.S. crime to do business with the group or provide material support for its activities.

Brian Hook, the administration’s special representative for Iran, said the designation will deprive Iran and the Revolutionary Guard of funds needed to carry out policies that he said include assassinations and threats to U.S. military personnel.

Hook said the designation will “make radioactive” any aspect of the Iranian economy that deals with the guard.

Under Trump, the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 agreement with Iran and six major powers to curtail the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions. Other signatories continue to support the deal but Washington swiftly reinstated numerous sanctions that had been suspended.

“The Middle East cannot be more peaceful and stable without weakening” the Revolutionary Guard, Hook said, calling it the “bloodline” of Iranian-sponsored terrorism.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in anticipation of the designation, said in a tweet Sunday that Trump “should know better than to be conned into another US disaster.”

The State Department designates 60 groups as foreign terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, Islamic State and their affiliates, Hezbollah and numerous militant Palestinian factions. But none of them is a state-run military.

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