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Israel's FM urges Germany to add Iran's IRGC to terror list, but hurdles remain

Though German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said recently that Berlin had no grounds to add the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to the country’s list of terror groups, Israeli sources insist she is committed to pursuing this option.
ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

BRUSSELS — On a visit to Berlin onTuesday, Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen discussed the Iranian threat with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock, including Jerusalem’s request to add the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to the European Union's list of terror-supporting organizations.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Cohen focused on Iran, saying that the international community's immediate response to Iran ramping up its uranium enrichment should be to restore sanctions on the regime in place before the 2015 nuclear agreement. There are two options on the table, argued Cohen. “We can go back to sanctions or have a credible military option.” He hailed Baerbock’s commitment to preventing Iran from reaching nuclear capabilities.

Cohen added that he had asked Baerbock to declare the IRGC a terror group, noting that the German minister was attentive and receptive to several of the points brought up by the Israeli delegation.

In her statement, Baerbock focused on other issues, including the judicial overhaul advanced by the Israeli government and the growing tensions in the West Bank, on the backdrop of two recent terror attacks by Palestinian assailants and vandalism by settlers in the West Bank village of Huwara.

An Israeli diplomatic source confirmed to Al-Monitor that in her talks with Cohen, Baerbock expressed her understanding and even commitment to pursuing efforts to include the IRGC on the EU terror list.

Last week, Baerbock said that German experts found no legal grounds to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization. The EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell reiterated that adding the IRGC to the European list would require that it first be blacklisted by an EU member state. So far, no EU member has taken that step, not even Israel’s close ally Hungary, fearing Tehran would immediately sever diplomatic ties over such a move.

Israeli security sources have claimed that European countries do have evidence of IRGC involvement in the planning of terror attacks on European soil. A 2019 US State Department report on terrorism noted as much: "The Iranian regime and its proxies continued to plot and commit terrorist attacks on a global scale," it read, and "The regime was directly involved in plotting terrorism through its IRGC and Ministry of Intelligence and Security, including plots in recent years in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa." A State Department report published on Monday covering 2021 noted, "In 2018, Germany uncovered 10 IRGC operatives involved in a terrorist plot in Germany."

In January, German security forces detained an Iranian man suspected planning an Islamist-motivated chemical attack, though reports did not confirm whether the man was affiliated with the IRGC.

Also last month, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said Paris had not ruled out the EU designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

On Saturday, the Council of the European Union approved its 10th package of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The package includes measures against individuals in Iran found to be involved in the provision of drones and components supporting Russia's military.

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