US grants exemptions to sanctions on elite Iranian military unit

US grants exemptions to sanctions on elite Iranian military unit
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The State Department on Wednesday put in place two carve-outs to the recently announced sanctions against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that mean foreign governments, nongovernmental organizations and other groups will not automatically face sanctions for working with the elite military unit.

The exemptions were published in the Federal Register weeks after the Trump administration announced it was officially designating the IRGC as a “foreign terrorist organization.”

Under U.S. law, those who provide “material support” to a foreign terrorist organization can be banned from entering the United States.

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That contributed to fears when the IRGC designation was announced that U.S. military and diplomatic work would be complicated in countries such as Iraq and Lebanon, where officials have close ties to the IRGC.

The exemptions published Wednesday appear designed to alleviate those concerns by waiving the travel ban for certain groups “in light of the foreign policy and national security interests,” as both notices say.

In one exemption, the travel sanctions won’t apply to “any ministry, department, agency, division, or other group or sub-group within any foreign government” unless they are otherwise subject to U.S. sanctions.

In the other exemption, the sanctions won’t cover “any business, organization, or group, whether public or private, solely based on its provision of material support to any foreign government sub-entity that has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization” unless they are covered by other sanctions.

The IRGC designation, the first time an entire government entity has been labeled a foreign terrorist organization, was one just step the administration has taken in recent weeks to try to increase pressure on Tehran. 

On Monday, the administration announced it will not renew waivers that allowed several foreign governments to continue buying Iranian oil without facing U.S. sanctions.