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Iran to retaliate any US move against IRGC in Persian Gulf: Envoy

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
IRGC Navy speed boats fire missiles during drills in the Persian Gulf. (file photo)

Iran's envoy to the United Kingdom has warned the United States that Tehran will “forcefully retaliate” any moves by the US military against the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), which was designated as a terrorist organization by US President Donald Trump earlier this week.

Hamid Baeidinejad told CNN’s Christian Amanpour on Thursday that American military forces in the Persian Gulf region were in a volatile situation and it wouldn’t be wise if they decided to take action against the Iranian elite force.

“The reality is the US forces are now in the region, so logically now there are concerns even within the US establishment for naming the IRGC as a terrorist organization because now it can have a very immediate impact over the situation the US forces have in the region,” he said.

Following Trump’s declaration on Monday, Iran reciprocated by designating the US Central Command (CENTCOM), the portion of the US military responsible for protecting American security interests in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, as a terrorist organization.

Baeidinejad said the announcement by Trump was only rhetorical and that he did not believe Washington would ever instruct US forces to really confront the IRGC and treat it as a terrorist force.

“If they dare to implement those instructions that the IRGC is a terrorist organization… if they move to counter the IRGC, they would see how forcefully they would be retaliated on the ground,” the Iranian envoy asserted. “So I imagine that these are just rhetorics.”

The US Navy has announced that it will not change its rules of engagement in the wake of Trump’s decision.

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson told the US Naval Institute (USNI) News that while a change of rules of engagement was not likely, he was worried about possible encounters in future following Iran’s reciprocal move.

“Now add the new designations to the context... Both sides will be seen by the other as terrorist organizations outside the bounds of international laws and norms,” the admiral argued.

Aircraft carriers, guided-missile destroyers and amphibious assault ships assigned to the 5th Fleet of the US Navy have been frequenting Persian Gulf waters over the past years.

The IRGC Navy has on several occasions intercepted some of those vessels, warning them to stay away from Iranian territorial waters. The IRGC has also detained several US Marines for crossing the maritime borders.

‘IRGC should be rewarded not sanctioned’

Elsewhere, Baeidinejad told Amanpour that the IRGC needed to be rewarded for its efforts in eradicating Daesh and other terrorist groups in the Middle East region.

“The IRGC has been very effectively fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” he said, using another acronym of the terror group. “They have been very effective in helping those two countries in fighting ISIS.”

The Iranian envoy said Trump's move was a “pre-election gift” to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and American officials never really thought about the possible consequences.

Zarif: US responsible for adventurism against IRGC

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned the United Nations that Washington and its "puppet regimes" bear full responsibility for Trump’s “dangerous” decision.

In a letter, drafted to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council, Zarif said the move violated all sorts of international boundaries.

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“This provocative move takes tensions to a confrontational and uncontrollable level, and increases the risk of incidents in a region that was already facing endless challenges,” he wrote.

“It goes without saying that the US regime along with those who are openly involved in this move and have accepted its effectiveness, as well as the two or three puppet regimes that have supported it, will be fully responsible for the perilous consequences of this adventurist move,” Zarif added.

Saudi Arabia has openly lauded Trump's decision. The United Arab Emirates, a close ally of both the US and Saudi Arabia, has been known to take hostile actions against the IRGC in the past. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also thanked Trump for his move against the IRGC.

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