UK Fails to Designate IRGC as Terror Group Despite Iranian Attack on Israel

Latest Developments

The British government is resisting a campaign by key UK politicians to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s inaction on the matter faces opposition from UK Shadow Defense Secretary John Healy and former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who are leading the renewed campaign. The IRGC “was at the forefront of the Iranian attack,” Healy said in support of the designation, which would categorize the IRGC as a terrorist organization akin to the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas, all of which the British government has previously designated.

Advocates of the status quo argue that an IRGC designation would sever communication between the United Kingdom and Iran and risk further escalation. Sunak affirmed that Britain is working with allies “to deter and condemn” Iran. The UK may apply more sanctions against Iran, according to Foreign Secretary David Cameron.

Expert Analysis

“The IRGC has deeply penetrated British soil, with law enforcement desperately needing the proscription tool to take action. Cameron can’t keep hiding behind the fear of escalation with Iran after Tehran just escalated to such a massive extent. The Sunak government needs to realize it’s the projection of fear and weakness that emboldens Iranian aggression, not the defense of Britain from IRGC terrorism.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“There may have been a time for London, Brussels, Ottawa, Canberra, and Wellington to use their public debate over IRGC proscription as leverage against Tehran. That time has long passed. The longer these jurisdictions delay, the more the regime senses weakness and continues to expand the scope of threats the Guard Corps poses.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

Pressure to Ban the IRGC Resurfaces

Cameron said the government has sanctioned the IRGC “in its entirety,” yet London has not declared it a terrorist organization. In April 2023, Duncan Smith and 125 British members of parliament unsuccessfully urged the UK government in a letter to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Duncan Smith said that the United States had “asked” the United Kingdom to impose such a designation. America designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization in 2019.

Britain Helps Shoot Down Iranian Projectiles But Urges Restraint

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu specifically thanked Britain, alongside the United States, France, and other allies, for intercepting Iranian drones and missiles launched at Israel. Sunak confirmed that Britain’s Royal Air Force shot down “a number of Iranian attack drones.” Following Iran’s strike, Cameron said the government supported Israel’s “right to respond” but would “not support a retaliatory strike.” Prime Minister Sunak reiterated that “all sides must show restraint.”

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