ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

The State Department is considering whether to designate at least part of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. It would be the first time the State Department included the armed forces of a sovereign nation on its list of terrorist organizations.

We'll talk with a former State Department official about the proposal. But first, NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

JACKIE NORTHAM: For months, the U.S. has been trying to confront what it sees as increasingly dangerous Iranian behavior in a variety of ways - through the United Nations Security Council, increasing pressure on allies to cut or curtail business arrangements with Tehran, and perhaps now by designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as terror organization.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack calls the powerful Revolutionary Guard a state within a state.

Mr. SEAN McCORMACK (Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State): They now have tentacles into all sorts of different activities - into business activities, into banking activities. We all know about their support for those groups that are going after our troops in Iraq. There have also been numerous news reports about their linkages with Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations.

NORTHAM: The idea behind the designation is to choke off funding for the Revolutionary Guard, including freezing any assets the Guard has in the U.S. McCormack indicated that could cause moderates in the Iranian government to rethink whether it's worth arming terror groups and other activities. But it's unclear what practical effect the designation would have. The U.S. has long imposed strict sanctions on Iran, which Washington has designated a state sponsor of terrorism. And it's unlikely the Revolutionary Guard has bank accounts or other assets in the U.S.

Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.

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