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Deconstructing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps

February 13, 2010

The U.S. Treasury Department has designated construction company Khatam al-Anbiya as a supporter of Iran’s nuclear program.  Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) controls Khatam al-Anbiya.  The Iranian military general in charge of Khatam al-Anbiya was also designated personally, along with four Khatam al-Anbiya subsidiaries.

Khatam al-Anbiya is a threat because it generates income for the IRGC through its profitable engineering and construction projects.  Put plainly, IRGC is using those revenues to support Iran’s efforts to acquire a nuclear bomb.

Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey

Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said “As the IRGC consolidates control over broad swaths of the Iranian economy, displacing ordinary Iranian businessmen in favor of a select group of insiders, it is hiding behind companies like Khatam al-Anbiya and its affiliates to maintain vital ties to the outside world… Today’s action exposing Khatam al-Anbiya subsidiaries will help firms worldwide avoid business that ultimately benefits the IRGC and its dangerous activities.”

As with many recent Treasury announcements like this, the legal authority for the designation comes from George W. Bush’s Executive Order 13382, which blocks assets of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.

Although this announcement was made before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asserted that Iran is now a “nuclear power,” this designation is not a complete coincidence.  Understanding that they may never be able to get international support (ie, Chinese or Russian support in the U.N. Security Council) for “crippling sanctions,” the Obama administration appears to be pivoting toward “targeted sanctions” instead.

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