From Raymond Tanter
Since December 2006, the UN Security Council and the United States Government have rightly used designation lists to counter the Iranian regime’s terrorist activities and pursuit of nuclear weapons. Ironically, Washington also designates as terrorist the regime’s main opposition, although it is a prime source of vital intelligence about Iran’s nuclear programs.
On December 23, 2006, Security Council Resolution 1737 sanctioned Iranian entities involved in Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Among entities and individuals sanctioned was the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. A high-profile name was Maj.-Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), whom the regime replaced as a result of the designation. The raison d’être of the IRGC is to produce nuclear weapons and export the regime’s revolutionary ideology via terrorism.
Because of the Iranian regime’s refusal to comply with UN and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demands to halt its enrichment and ballistic missile programs, the Security Council stepped up sanctions in a second resolution on March 24, 2007. Resolution 1747 expanded the list of ballistic missile and nuclear entities to banks funding Iran’s nuclear weapons program, including Bank Sepah, which was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in January 2007. The Resolution also listed entities and individuals of the IRGC, including Qods Aeronautics Industries and Qods Force Commander Qasem Soleimani.
Despite Resolutions 1737 and 1747, the Iranian regime accelerated its uranium enrichment during 2007, prompting the Departments of State and Treasury to issue unilateral sanctions against regime entities. On October 25, 2007, State placed the Revolutionary Guards on its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, “to counter Iran’s bid for nuclear capabilities and support for terrorism.”
On January 9, 2008, Treasury imposed yet another round of sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for fueling violence in Iraq, including Qods Force Brigadier General Ahmed Foruzandeh, who “leads terrorist operations against Coalition Forces and Iraqi Security Forces, and directs assassinations of Iraqi figures.” Tehran’s failure to comply with Resolutions 1737 and 1747 led to a third UN Resolution to extend sanctions, on March 3, 2008.
The irony of the designations against the Iranian regime over the past year is that the Iranian opposition that provided intelligence to help make such designations possible, is itself designated by the United States as a terrorist entity: the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the parliament-in-exile based in France with a network of supporters in Iran.
President Clinton designated the NCRI as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1999. There is evidence that the U.S. listings were part of a politically-motivated effort by the Clinton administration to appease the clerical regime in Tehran, and research by the Iran Policy Committee (of which I am President) concludes that the Clinton administration’s allegations, which were used to designate the groups, are baseless.
Not only has the Bush administration continued the designation of the NCRI, which failed to appease Tehran; the State Department also designated the NCRI-US in 2003, in exchange for a promise from the Iranian regime not to subvert Iraq following the takedown of Saddam Hussein. The regime broke its promise, yet the NCRI and NCRI-US inexplicably remain designated.
It is nonsensical for the United States, Europe, and the UN to sanction the Iranian regime, while simultaneously designating as terrorist brave Iranian oppositionists who risk their lives for intelligence that makes sanctions against the regime possible. Lifting unwarranted terrorist designations of the Iranian opposition would remove contradictions that plague U.S. policy, jumpstart stalled diplomacy, and avert the need for military action against the Iranian regime. Contradictions weaken targeted sanctions, allow the regime to perfect uranium enrichment, and increase the likelihood that President Bush’s successor, whether Clinton, McCain, or Obama, will be left with the difficult choice of an Iranian bomb or bombing Iran.
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