Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday sent a letter to the UN Security Council and Secretary General Antonio Guterres, stressing that Iran would hold the US accountable for any future provocations against the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
In his letter, which was written after the United States on Monday designated the IRGC as a “foreign terrorist organization”, Zarif called the US move “unprecedented, illegal and dangerous”.
He said the US and "several puppet governments will bear responsibility for dangerous consequences of the adventurism".
"The provocative move will raise tensions to an uncontrollable level and increase threats in the region," he said, adding that the IRGC is at the forefront in fighting terrorism and extremism.
Zarif insisted that the IRGC is an official military force and the US decision violates international law and the charter of the United Nations.
Zarif informed Guterres that in a “reciprocal” move, Iran has designated “the US regime” as a state-sponsor of terrorism and the US Central Command, CENTCOM, and all its affiliates as “terrorist group”.
The full text of Zarif’s letter follows:
"In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
I wish to bring to your attention the unprecedented, unlawful and dangerous designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—an official branch of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran—as a so-called “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the current lawless administration of the United States of America. The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly condemns this baseless and provocative move; and deems this a hostile act against the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as a grave threat to the regional and international peace and security. This action which is without precedent—even for this U.S. regime, which has engaged in many illegal unilateral measures and designations— constitutes a breach of generally recognized principles of international law and of the Charter of the United Nations, including the principle of sovereign equality of states.
This provocative move will increase tensions to an uncontrollable and confrontational level and increases the danger of accidents and incidents in a region already facing numerous challenges. It is self-evident that the U.S. regime—along with those who have publicly acknowledged agitating this designation, as well as the two or three client regimes that have supported this—shall bear full responsibility for all consequences of this adventurism.
Unlike the U.S. and its regional clients which have always supported extremist groups and terrorists in the West Asia region—as manifestly admitted, including by the current U.S. president during his election campaign—Iranian armed forces, including and especially the IRGC, have consistently been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism and extremism in the region. The role of the IRGC in the battles against Security Councildesignated terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups in the region, has always been noted and praised by the affected people and governments.
H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres
In a reciprocal response to the unlawful and unwise move by the U.S., the Islamic Republic of Iran announced that it designates the U.S. regime a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” and the US Central Command or “CENTCOM” and all its affiliated forces a “terrorist group”. CENTCOM is responsible for implementing the terrorist policies of the U.S. administration against the West Asia region by willfully targeting civilians in order to advance hostile U.S. policies. CENTCOM has endangered the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the lives of innocent Iranians and non-Iranians, including with its brutal and intentional attack on an Iranian passenger plane in 1988, as well as its complicity in the slaughter of Yemeni people and other civilians in West Asia.
The Islamic Republic of Iran would also like to make clear that despite numerous examples of acts with a terrorist nature implemented directly or indirectly by CENTCOM, designation of this government body as a terrorist organization by Iran is solely based on reciprocity; and shall not be construed as a shift in Iran's legal position with regard to the principle of sovereign equality of states, and the definition of terrorism.
It would be highly appreciated if this letter were circulated as a document of the General Assembly and of the Security Council.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration."
The United States has already blacklisted dozens of entities and people for affiliations with the IRGC, but had not previously targeted the military force as a whole.
The estimated 125,000-strong IRGC also commands the volunteer Basij.
‘Mother of all terrorism’
Tens of thousands of Iranians marched in the capital Tehran and other cities and towns after Friday prayers to protest against the US blacklisting of the IRGC.
In Tehran, demonstrators carrying signs reading “I’m a Guard too” and “Down with USA” burnt American and Israeli flags.
National television showed crowds shouting “What’s America thinking? Iran is full of Guards”.
“Today, it has been proven to the people of the world and of this region in particular that America is the mother of all terrorism,” said Tehran Friday prayers leader Ayatollah Mohammad-Ali Movahhedi-Kermani, clad in an IRGC uniform.
AP and Reuters contributed to this story.