Stories by Behnam Ben Taleblu

Expert Voices

Terrorist designation increases burden on Iran's Revolutionary Guard

Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Monday's State Department press conference. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary Mike Pompeo escalated the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign on Iran with his announcement that the State Department would add Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to its Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list on April 15.

Why it matters: The FTO designation builds on the existing web of U.S. penalties against the IRGC — which has spawned and backed countless proxies and militias in the Middle East and carried out or supported terrorist actions on several continents — and makes it even harder to do business with individuals or companies tied to the group.

Expert Voices

European powers express growing concern about Iranian missiles

Iranian missiles on display at a military exhibition
A weaponry and military equipment exhibition in Tehran on Feb. 7. Photo: Rouzbeh Fouladi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Representatives from the E3 — the U.K., France and Germany — sent a letter last week to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asking him to “report fully and thoroughly on Iranian ballistic missile activity.”

The big picture: The group's request follows recent developments in Iran's ballistic missile program, including the inauguration of two upgraded missile platforms and a failed satellite-launch vehicle test. This effort broadens the focus on the Iranian missile threat to encompass future intentions — especially around nuclear-capable systems — and provides a new vector for joint U.S. and European pressure.

Expert Voices

U.S. increases pressure on Iran with slate of nuclear sanctions

Mike Pompeo and Steven Mnuchin
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

The State and Treasury departments on Friday sanctioned 31 entities — 17 organizations and 14 people — with ties to Iran's Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND), a previously sanctioned research center that was involved in Tehran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Why it matters: The designation was pursuant to an executive order signed in 2005 that laid out penalties for those involved in the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The U.S. has used the order to target Iran's ballistic missile program, but these are the first nuclear-specific designations since the Iran nuclear deal entered into force in January 2016.