(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO, SAYING: "Today the United States is continuing to build its maximum pressure campaign against the Iranian regime." In an unprecedented move, the U.S. State Department on Monday said it would label Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards Corps a foreign terrorist organization.
It's the first time Washington has formally designated another country's military a terrorist group.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO, SAYING: "We're doing it because the Iranian regime's use of terrorism as a tool of statecraft makes it fundamentally different from any other government." The IRGC is Iran's most powerful security force.
Designating it as a foreign terror group is meant to hamper its ability to move money and operate internationally.
Since taking office the Trump administration withdrew from a multinational nuclear deal meant to block Iran from building nuclear weapons, and it leveled sanctions against Tehran.
Washington is now targeting the IRGC, which it says backs militant groups across the Middle East, from Hezbollah in Lebanon to Houthi fighters in Yemen's civil war.
The United States has already blacklisted dozens of entities and people for affiliations with the IRGC, but not the organization as a whole.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed the IRGC's commander, Qassem Soleimani, for the deaths of more than 600 U.S. service members in Iraq, many of whom were killed by insurgents using explosives Washington said originated in Iran.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO, SAYING: "The blood of the 603 American soldiers the Iranian regime is found to have killed in Iraq is on his hands, and on the hands of the IRGC more broadly." But critics have warned labeling the IRGC a terrorist group could complicate security matters in places such as Iraq.
American troops are still on the there ground after vanquishing the Islamic State.
U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and special forces played a key role in clearing a path for Iraqi militias to re-take ISIS territory.
Many of those militias were made up of Iraqi Shiite volunteers, trained and equipped by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
Iranian lawmakers last week warned the nation would take reciprocal action in response to any threat to the IRGC.
The U.S. designation takes effect next week.