The United States will soon be referring to an Iranian military division as a "specially designated global terrorist," a State Department official told FOX News on Wednesday.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps would be targeted in terror financing probes under guidelines established under Executive Order 13224, which President Bush signed nine days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The story on the new targeting was first reported late Tuesday in The Washington Post.
The executive order states that a designated terror group "has committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States."
This would be the first time a national military branch would be included on the list of terrorist organizations, which is usually reserved for non-state terror organizations and their associates.
"What we have to understand here is the Revolutionary Guards are 'Murder Incorporated,'" former Ambassador Mark Ginsberg told FOX News. He said that the Guard, which serves directly under and reports to the Iranian president, is "an army within an army" that runs the other branches of the armed services as well as building construction contracting within the country and international arms deals, among other industries.
The Revolutionary Guard boasts such veterans as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and many Iranian business leaders.
"Cutting off their finances could in effect hurt them," Ginsberg said, adding that the United States decided to freeze the Guard's bank assets in part because the United Nations was unwilling to impose more sanctions.
The Bush administration had been weighing whether to target the Revolutionary Guard Corps in full, or only the Quds Force, which the U.S. claims is responsible for the increase in improvised explosive devices, rockets and other arms used by Shiite militias in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Ahmadinejad, who was in Kabul on Tuesday meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, claims Iran is not providing weapons. President Bush also calls Iran a destabilizing influence whose foreign policy is dangerous to world stability. Aides say he stands by the accusations by U.S. military officers both in Iraq and NATO officials in Afghanistan, though White House spokeswoman Dana Perino would not comment directly on any impending action to label the IRGC.
"I think it's no secret that Iran is a state sponsor of terror. They have been designated as a state sponsor of terror for a long time. And I would refer you to reports from Department of Defense and the multinational forces in Iraq talking about weapons that are coming into Iraq that are used to kill our men and women in uniform, as well as innocent Iraqis," Perino said.
While refusing to discuss the deliberations, she added that the U.S. is still pursuing the diplomatic track with Iran.
"Military action is not being contemplated. As the president has said, no president should ever take that option off the table. But diplomacy is what we are aiming towards," Perino said.
FOX News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.