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Borrell says EU cannot designate Iran's IRGC as ‘terrorist’ without court ruling

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)
European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell (file photo by AP)

In what seems to be a partial retreat from hardline anti-Iran policies, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has announced that the bloc cannot list the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) as a “terrorist” entity without an EU court decision.

Speaking before a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, Borrell said a court ruling with a “concrete legal condemnation” had to first be handed down before the bloc itself could apply any such designation.

"It is something that cannot be decided without a court, a court decision first. You cannot say I consider you a terrorist because I don't like you," Borrell told reporters, stressing that the court of an EU member state had to issue a concrete legal condemnation before the bloc could act.

The announcement was made after the European Parliament on Wednesday adopted an amendment calling on the EU and its member states to include the IRGC on their terror list. It also passed another resolution on Thursday, calling for more sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities and putting the IRGC on the EU terrorist list over alleged human rights violations during the recent riots.

Major General Hossein Salami, the chief commander of the IRGC, blasted the European Parliament’s resolution, warning that the Europeans would suffer the consequences of their move. 

EU ministers agree on new package of sanctions against Iran

The European Union, however, introduced on Monday new sanctions against Iran for what it claimed to be "brutal" crackdown on and “repression” of recent protests, which were triggered after the death of a young Iranian woman of Kurdish descent in Tehran in September last year.

Sweden, which currently holds the EU rotating presidency, said the bloc's foreign ministers meeting in Brussels had "adopted a new package of sanctions against Iran, targeting those driving the repression."

"Ministers adopted a new package of sanctions against Iran, targeting those driving the repression. The EU strongly condemns the brutal and disproportionate use of force by the Iranian authorities against peaceful protesters," Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said in a tweet, without providing any evidence.

The European diplomats said last week that they had plans to add 37 Iranian individuals to the bloc's list of people and entities subject to sanctions over alleged human rights violations.

Western-backed riots erupted in Iran in mid-September when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in a hospital in Tehran, three days after she collapsed at a police station. An investigation attributed Amini’s death to her pre-existing medical condition, rather than alleged beatings by the police.    

The violent riots claimed the lives of scores of people and security forces, while also allowing terrorist attacks across the country. During the protests, the terrorists set fire to public property and tortured several Basij members and security forces to death.

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