“The Americans, through their hostile behavior toward the Guards, have increased the IRGC's dignity. Today, thank God, the IRGC has dignity both at home and abroad,” the Leader said during a graduation ceremony at IRGC’s Imam Hussein University in Tehran.
The United States designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization in April, marking the first time Washington has formally labeled another nation’s military a terrorist group.
The measure, however, earned the force more respect and admiration among Iranians and other people, Ayatollah Khamenei said.
The IRGC is a powerful security force, set up after the 1979 Islamic Revolution to protect the country. The force immediately won the hearts and minds of Iranians through its gallantry in the battlefield against an all-out invasion by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Since the end of the imposed war in 1988, the IRGC has also engaged in housing development, dam and road construction, oil and gas projects, food, transportation and even educational and cultural activities.
Touching on the force's respected standing, Ayatollah Khamenei said, “Incidentally, the enemies also contributed to this dignity."
"The Americans, with their cruel and grim image and hostile behavior toward the Guards, added to the IRGC’s dignity,” the Leader said.
“The enemies of God make hostility to God's servants, and this hostility makes the image of God's servants brighter and makes them dearer,” he added.
After the blacklisting, US officials were at pain to clarify that the designation did not mean the US military would start treating the IRGC like al-Qaeda, Daesh or other militant groups that it can target at will.
The US step, however, prompted an immediate response from Iran, with the country's Supreme National Security Council in turn designating American military forces as a “terrorist organization.”
The IRGC is a crucial arm of Iran's self-sufficiency drive in military industries and Ayatollah Khamenei on Sunday called on the force to continue inventing and building modern military hardware.
"A permanent lesson before the eyes of the Revolutionary Guards is this verse: 'And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy'," the Leader said, citing the Holy Qur'an.
“This verse means you need to increase your power as much as possible by building a strong, robust and inclusive organization," Ayatollah Khamenei told the audience.
The IRGC needs to "always have enhancing scientific and specialized power in mind, keep moving forward in tactical and strategic strengths, operate with constant alertness and readiness and avoid even a moment of neglect and increase the strength of the IRGC's faith by training faithful, determined, pure, and motivated youth every single day," he added.