The October expiry of UN sanctions limiting Iran’s missile programme must become a hard deadline for the UK to adopt a tougher policy that includes proscription of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a rightwing thinktank has warned.
The report from the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) is the second from a right-of-centre thinktank in two days demanding tougher action on Iran, and suggests that the UK ministers’ preferred strategy of introducing an Iran-specific sanctions regime that could lead to sanctions for activities outside Iran has fallen flat with Tory hawks.
The UK government has examined the possibility of proscribing the IRGC for months and rejected the option, fearing diplomatic fallout with Tehran.
The Foreign Office decision announced a fortnight ago gave political space for Labour’s shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, this week to call for the IRGC to be proscribed, the first time a state body would be labelled as terrorist by the UK government.
It is understood Jonathan Hall, the independent reviewer of terrorism, believes the IRGC or support for the IRGC, could be proscribed through a simple amendment to the National Security Act.
The intervention by the HJS comes after another centre-right thinktank, the Policy Exchange, argued the UK needed an Iran policy that recognised the IRGC was a state sponsor of terrorism. It said Iran would be able to provide advanced ballistic missiles to Russia for use in Ukraine from October when sanctions lapse.
Tory backbench hawks are now looking for a chance to form a cross-party alliance with Labour on the issue of IRGC proscription.
The new sanctions regime proposed by ministers requires legislation, and discussions are under way among those MPs who want a tougher line on Iran whether the legislation could be amended to include proscription.
The report written by the HJS says the sanctions route has been proven ineffective, and extending the criteria for imposing sanctions against Iran will do nothing to boost their minimal practical impact. It says proscription, the policy once favoured by Rishi Sunak, will be far more impactful.
Although 76 groups are currently proscribed by the UK government, the vast bulk of them Islamist groups, none are seen as part of a state.
The HJS argues the UK government for legal reasons has been opposed to proscribing the IRGC since to do so would be seen as designating that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. Hall in a note written in January has said “the enduring policy of the UK government has been to treat terrorism by states as falling outside the Terrorism Act 2000. This appears to be a policy position rather than a view on the interpretation of the act.”
But the HJS report argues: “To delay proscription any further would only serve to embolden the IRGC, and would continue to set an example for other states to follow where they can incorporate hostile non-state actors into their official government structures in order to evade UK proscription laws.”
They say a hard deadline of October should be set to make a decision on proscription and the reimposition of UN sanctions.
Source : The Guardian