In its annual Country Reports on Terrorism on June 24, the U.S. State Department has classified the Islamic Republic as the "foremost state sponsor of terrorism," maintaining that Iran provides "a range of support, including financial, training, and equipment, to [terrorist] groups around the world – particularly Hezbollah."
Washington has designated the Islamic Republic as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984.
Referring to Washington's intense pressure on Tehran in 2019, the report says that the U.S. government, along with its allies, imposed new sanctions on Tehran and its proxy groups as part of its policy of maximum pressure on the country.
U.S. actions against Iran in 2019 was highlighted by its decision to designate the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and its extraterritorial arm, the Qods Force, as "foreign terrorist groups."
Stressing that Iran has acknowledged the involvement of the Qods Force in the Iraq and Syria conflicts, the report reiterates, "In April 2019, the Secretary of State designated the IRGC, including the Qods Force, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Iran also used regional proxy forces to provide deniability, in an attempt to shield it from accountability for its aggressive policies."
The State Department's annual report also says that Western European and South American countries decided to confront the Islamic Republic's ally, Lebanon's Hezbollah last year, designating it as a terrorist group.
In the past, the Iranian government used to spend more than $ 700 million a year to support terrorist groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas, in Gaza, but under strong sanctions in 2019, Tehran's ability to provide financial support to terrorists has decreased dramatically," the report added.
Meanwhile, the State Department has accused the Iranian government of carrying out terrorist operations in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, adding that the IRGC and the Islamic Republic's Ministry of Intelligence had been behind such operations in recent years.
"Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qa’ida (AQ) members residing in the country and has refused to publicly identify members in its custody. Iran has allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran since at least 2009, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria," the annual report has maintained.
Furthermore, the report has referred to the role of the Islamic Republic agents in killing Iranian dissidents abroad, noting, "As, in past years, the Iranian government continued supporting terrorist plots to attack Iranian dissidents in several countries in continental Europe."
In recent years, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Albania have all either arrested or expelled Iranian government officials implicated in various plots in their respective territories.
Tehran and Washington experienced very tense relations in 2019. But the escalation of tensions reached a high point on January 3, 2020, when the Chief Commander of the IRGC's Qods Force, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a U.S. drone strike that pushed the two countries to the brink of a military confrontation.