Donald Trump announced on Monday that the United States will declare the Revolutionary Guard of Iran, the elite military corps of the country, as a "foreign terrorist organization", in an action that seeks to raise pressure on the Tehran regime. This is the first time that the United States described a "part of a foreign government" as a terrorist group, the White House said in a statement.

"This unprecedented step, led by the State Department, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the Revolutionary Guard actively participates, finances and promotes terrorism as a political tool," says the statement.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been behind this change in US policy, which is another step in the recent escalation of rhetoric against Iran.

The Trump Administration is confident that the measure, which will go into effect on April 16, will contribute to the isolation of Iran and make it clear that the United States will not tolerate Tehran's support for groups that destabilize the Middle East. The Revolutionary Guard and the Iranian Parliament have warned the United States, according to Reuters, that they would retaliate if they carried out the measure.

"This action significantly expands the scope and scale of our maximum pressure on the Iranian regime," the statement continues. "It makes clear the risks of providing support or conducting business with the Revolutionary Guard.

If you do business with the Revolutionary Guard, you will be financing terrorism."

Judicial action like sanctions and Iran

The designation allows the USA to act judicially, for violation of sanctions, against individuals or companies that provide material support to the Revolutionary Guard or its affiliates. It could also entail diplomatic complications, by preventing US military or diplomats from contacting Iraqi or Lebanese authorities who interact with the Pasdaran (a Persian term by which the members of this ideological army are known).

Army officers and US intelligence services have expressed concern over this potential collateral effect of a measure that Washington has been studying for years.

Pentagon and CIA commanders, according to The New York Times, oppose a measure that could allow Iranian officials to justify operations against Special Operations and CIA units deployed overseas.

The United States considers that the Iranian regime "uses terrorism as a central tool of its policy and uses the Revolutionary Guard to lead and carry out its global terrorist campaign." Additionally, according to the White House, the Revolutionary Guard "provides financing, equipment, training, personnel, and logistical support to terrorist groups." Washington believes that the opaque structure of the Revolutionary Guard serves as a cover for terrorist activities that threaten Israel and European and American forces.

Israel elections

The Washington Times notes the announcement came on the eve of the elections in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is supported by Trump, and key to his strategy for the Middle East, seeks re-election with promises to fight the threat of Iran in the region.

The Revolutionary Guard is an organization founded by Ayatollah Khomeini, in the wake of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which acts independently of the regular army and whose mission is to defend the regime from any threat. Today it is the most crucial military corps in Iran, with important economic interests in the country. The State Department currently considers sixty groups as international terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and Hezbollah.