July 23, 2015 | Policy Brief

IRGC Cashes in on EU “Transition Day”

July 23, 2015 | Policy Brief

IRGC Cashes in on EU “Transition Day”

After the nuclear agreement signed last week, the United States will maintain most of its sanctions on individuals and entities connected to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the regime’s elite forces for external terrorism and domestic repression. The European Union, however, has chosen a different path: a mass de-listing of the Guards on the date the deal calls “Transition Day.”

Transition Day occurs eight years after the deal’s implementation – which barring unforeseen circumstances will occur at some point over the next three months. On that day, the EU will delist the IRGC, as well as its Air Force and Missile Command. Most unexpectedly, it will lift nuclear sanctions on the Quds Force (IRGC-QF), the IRGC’s external arm tasked with “exporting the revolution” and extending support to terrorist proxies.

It will also delist former and current commanders of the IRGC and IRGC-QF:

  • Major General Yahya-Rahim Safavi ,former IRGC chief commander and current adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei

  • Brigadier General Morteza Rezaei, former IRGC Intelligence Directorate chief

  • Brigadier General Mohammad Hejazi, former commander of the Basij paramilitary, who currently serves as Joint IRGC/Armed Forces Preparedness and Logistics chief

  • Parviz Fattah, former director of the influential IRGC Cooperative Foundation charity, who currently serves as the head of the Imam Khomeini Aid and Relief Committee charity

  • Rostam Qassemi, former director of Khatam al-Anbia – an IRGC company that is Iran’s largest construction firm – who today heads the Iran/Iraq Economic Development Headquarters for bilateral trade

  • Brigadier General Hossein Salimi, former IRGC Air Force chief

  • Ali-Akbar Tabatabaei, commander of the IRGC-QF Africa Corps

  • Mohammad-Reza Zahedi, commander of the IRGC-QF in Lebanon 

The IRGC’s leading financial arms will also be de-listed:  

  • The IRGC Cooperative Foundation, the IRGC’s leading investment arm, controlling 30 to 40 percent of the Tehran Stock Exchange

  • Ansar Bank, a Cooperative Foundation subsidiary with 700 branches nationwide, listed by the EU for links to proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities and development of nuclear weapon delivery systems

  •  Mehr Bank, a subsidiary of the IRGC’s Basij Cooperative Foundation conglomerate that has five main subsidiaries of its own and which the U.S. Treasury designated for its role in proliferation.

The EU will also delist IRGC-owned companies active in the engineering, construction, energy, and transport sectors:

  • At least a dozen subsidiaries of Khatam al-Anbia, which according to the U.S. Treasury supports “the full range of the IRGC's illicit activities, including WMD proliferation and support for terrorism”

  • Pouya Air, also known as Yas Air, which the U.S. Treasury designated in 2012 for “acting for or on behalf of the IRGC-QF for transporting illicit cargo, including weapons, to Iran’s clients in the Levant”

  • Tidewater Middle East Company, which Treasury designated in 2011 for its IRGC ownership and for engaging in illicit weapons shipments 

The EU delisting of IRGC military organizations and personnel is tantamount to a green light for Iran-sponsored terrorism. Likewise, the EU delisting of IRGC financial, engineering, construction, energy, and transport sector entities amounts to European approval of the IRGC’s dominance in Iran’s economy, which equates to the continued repression of the Iranian people by a regime that just cashed in on temporarily deferring aspects of its nuclear program. 

Ali Alfoneh is a senior fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @Alfoneh