Iran condemns US move to brand guards "terrorist"

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TEHRAN, 25 Oct (Reuters) Iran condemned today a US move to brand the country's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and its Qods force a supporter of terrorism, the state broadcaster IRIB's Web site reported.

''The hostile policies of America against the respectful Iranian nation and our legal organisations are against international regulations and have no value,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini was quoted as saying.

''Such policies have always failed.'' Washington today imposed sanctions on more than 20 Iranian companies, major banks and individuals as well as the Defence Ministry in a bid to force Tehran to stop uranium enrichment and curb its ''terrorist'' activities.

Some within the US administration had wanted to label the entire Guards Corps a foreign terrorist group -- the first time the United States would place the armed forces of any sovereign government on such a list.

Such measures are opposed by allies such as Russia who believe dialogue rather than more punishment or military action to halt Iran's nuclear programme, which the West fears is a cover to build nuclear bomb.

Iran denies it, saying its atomic work is to generate electricity.

The Qods force is a special unit of the Revolutionary Guard Corps and considered the most elite unit. There are varying estimates of its strength but it is in charge of Tehran's support for groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

''Such measures ... can not stop development of Iran and its legal organisations,'' Hosseini added.

''Such ridiculous measures can not rescue Americans from the crisis they themselves have created in Iraq.'' Reuters SZ VP0055

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