TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Iran’s parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a law designating United States Central Command (CENTCOM) as a terrorist organization in retaliation for the U.S. blacklisting of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
Lawmakers approved the bill by 173 to 4 votes, with 11 abstentions at an open parliamentary session.
The measure is intended to "reciprocate” Washington’s recent labeling of the IRGC a "terrorist” entity, which "undermines regional and international peace and security” and "runs contrary to the principles of international law.”
Under the new law, "CENTCOM as well as forces, organizations and bodies under its command, are declared terrorist and providing any assistance - including military, intelligence, financial, technical, educational, administrative and logistical - to these forces in order to counter the IRGC and the Islamic Republic of Iran amounts to collaboration in an act of terror.”
On April 8, the White House labeled Iran "a State Sponsor of Terrorism” and the IRGC a "foreign terrorist organization,” claiming that the elite force "actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”
In a swift response, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council designated the U.S. government a supporter of terrorism and CENTCOM a terrorist organization.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the targeting of the IRGC is rooted in America’s "rancor” against the force, which has been at the forefront of the fight against enemies both inside and outside of Iran.
The parliament’s decision came a day after the U.S. said it was ending waivers which allowed oil imports from Iran in order to zero out the country’s exports.
Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh said on Tuesday the United States has made a bad mistake by politicizing oil and using it as a weapon.
Oil prices on Tuesday hit their highest level since November after Washington announced all waivers on imports of sanctions-hit Iranian oil would end next week, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran and further tightening global supply.
Oil in London closed in on the $75-a-barrel mark for the first time since late October, as Saudi Arabia was said to plan a cautious response to tightened American sanctions on fellow OPEC member Iran.
Zangeneh added that the United States will not be able to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.
The U.S. "dream of zeroing out Iran's oil exports will not be realized and this policy of sanctions will fail with full force,” he said.
"Basically, some regional countries announce their spare capacity more than it really is in order to excite the U.S. and put pressure on Iran and calm down the consumers,” he said, in reference to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
"The United States and its allies, by politicizing the oil and using it as a weapon, are making a mistake, the impact of which will boomerang on many sides given the fragility of the market,” Zangeneh added.
Tasnim quoted the unnamed source as saying: "Whether the waivers continue or not, Iran’s oil exports will not be zero under any circumstances unless Iranian authorities decide to stop oil exports … and this is not relevant now.”
"We have been monitoring and analyzing all possible scenarios and conditions for the advance of our country’s oil exports, and necessary measures have been taken … Iran is not waiting for America’s decision or the lack of it to export its oil,” Tasnim quoted the source as saying.
"We have years of experience in neutralizing efforts by enemies to strike blows against our country,” the source added.
Iran has pledged to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipment channel in the Persian Gulf, if the United States tries to strangle Tehran’s economy by halting its oil exports.