U.S. Looks to Sanctions on Iran's Quds Force

September 12th, 2007  

Topic: U.S. Looks to Sanctions on Iran's Quds Force

September 12, 2007
Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is looking at slapping sanctions on a unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps but has decided against naming the entire body a terrorist group, senior U.S. officials said on Wednesday. With some allies' support fading for tougher U.N. sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program, Washington plans more unilateral measures to pressure Iran, including sanctions on the Guards' Quds force, blamed for stoking violence in Iraq.

"The important thing is to send a signal that we are even more impatient and more disappointed. That requires stronger language and additional measures," said a senior U.S. official, who declined to be named as the issue is sensitive.

Last month, plans were leaked to U.S. media of the Bush administration's intent to label the entire Guard Corps a foreign terrorist group -- the first time the United States would place the armed forces of any sovereign government on its list of terrorist organizations.

Such a designation enables Washington to target the Iranian group's finances.

U.S. officials said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was furious over the leak, which one diplomat said was seen as a deliberate attempt by hawks in the administration to push the State Department to take firmer action against Iran.

Several senior U.S. officials said a decision had been made not to label the entire Guard Corps a terrorist group, partly because some of Washington's allies disagreed with the move and also because of the legalities involved.

The thinking was now to impose strong financial measures against the Quds without calling it a terrorist group. Washington blames the Quds force for inciting violence in Iraq and allowing the flow of weapons to its neighbor.

"There is no consideration being given at present to designating the entire (Guard). The issue is the Quds," said a senior U.S. official.

Senior State Department official David Satterfield, who declined to give details of future punitive U.S. actions against Iran, said Washington was very concerned about the behavior of the Quds and its parent body, the Guard Corps.

"We are intent upon doing what we can to address these behaviors and we will take whatever steps we believe will be appropriate and effective to reduce the ability of these groups to continue these activities," added Satterfield, the State Department's Iraq coordinator.


A Western diplomat said the harder line being taken by Washington reflected frustration not only with Tehran but also with some allies, notably Germany, for a reluctance to move ahead quickly with a third round of U.N. sanctions against Iran. China and Russia also oppose more sanctions.

The diplomat said lower-level German officials told the United States during a meeting in Berlin last week, along with other major powers, that it could not support more sanctions.

Part of the argument was to see how a deal played out between the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog and Iran, which is aimed at bringing about more transparency to Iran's nuclear program.

However, German Embassy spokesman in Washington Ulrich Sante disputed that Germany did not support U.S. plans for another U.N. sanctions resolution against Iran.

Major powers, including Germany, are expected to gather in Washington on September 21 to discuss the possible broadening of U.N. sanctions against Iran.

"We're confident we're going to be able to move forward, get a new Security Council resolution that includes new sanctions," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

Iran experts say war drums appear to be beating louder in the administration for military action against Tehran for refusing to give up its nuclear program.

"Even among those who might advocate the military option, I think there are probably very few who believe that dropping a bomb on Iran is going to have a positive outcome," said Iran expert Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Asked whether serious discussions were taking place for a possible military strike against Iran, McCormack said the United States was still on a "diplomatic course."
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September 12th, 2007  
Iran's Commander Says U.S. Weak Points Identified in Iraq, Afghanistan

September 11, 2007
People's Daily Online

The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said on Tuesday that the country has identified U.S. weak points in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran's state broadcasting organization IRIB reported on its website. "All weak points of the enemy of Islamic Revolution in Iraq and in Afghanistan have been located and on the basis of these weak points the country's defensive fundamentals have been strengthened," General Mohammad Ali Jaafari said.

The commander made the remarks at the end of the three-day nation-wide annual gathering of the commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

"In case the enemy wants to do any bold action the Iranians will give a strong and teeth-breaking response," Jaafari said.

He noted that the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militia force, which is subordinate to the Revolutionary Guards, will remain the supporters of the Iranian revolution and the system.

The United States has been seeking to impose tougher sanctions on Iran through the UN Security Council on the grounds that Tehran is developing a nuclear weapon program under the guise of a civilian-use program.

Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and voiced hope for talks to defuse the nuclear standoff.

The United States has never ruled out military action against Iranian targets for Tehran's suspicious nuclear programs.
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