Labour expected to delay proscribing IRGC

Foreign Secretary waiting to see implications of Iran's presidential election on its nuclear programme before proscribing group


The funeral procession for seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members killed in a strike in Syria in April. Labour is reportedly unlikely to rush into proscribing the group in government (Photo via Getty Images)

The new Labour government is expected to delay a pre-election pledge to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and examine a new category of state-backed terrorism.

The foreign secretary, David Lammy,  is said to be analysing the foreign policy implications of the election of the new Iranian president, Masoud Pezeshkian.

Described as the “reformist” candidate, the main argument between Pezeshkian and his conservative opponent during the presidential debates had been the nuclear programme. The new president reportedly supports a dialling down of Iran’s nuclear operation to facilitate the reduction of the crippling Western sanctions on Iran.

Lammy is likely to want to see if Pezeshkian has any real influence over the nation's foreign policy and could take steps to stem nuclear acceleration, according to the Guardian.

The Board of Deputies has pushed the new government to move forward with proscription, with a spokesperson telling the JC: “While in opposition Labour made a clear and repeated pledge to proscribe the IRGC. We call on them to fulfil this pledge now that they are in a position to do so.”

In opposition, Labour said it would proscribe the IRGC. If it pushed ahead with the pledge, the National Security Bill would need to be amended to allow the proscription of state bodies like the IRGC.

Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, said in opposition last year, “The IRGC is behaving like a terrorist organisation and must now be proscribed as such.”

They said they would do this, "either through the existing process or through amending the National Security Bill to create a new process of proscription for hostile state actors.”

Labour’s manifesto explicitly referred to the threat posed by the IRGC, saying: “From the Skripal poisonings to assassination plots by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, threats from hostile states or state-sponsored groups are on the rise, but Britain lacks a comprehensive framework to protect us.

“Labour will take the approach used for dealing with non-state terrorism and adapt it to deal with state-based domestic security threats.”

One of the most powerful militias in the Middle East, the IRGC is tasked with enforcing the ayatollahs’ fundamentalist regime in Iran. It sits alongside Iran’s traditional military force, with its own air, land, and naval forces, and coordinates malign proxies across the Middle East.

Its overseas operations wing operates a network of regional proxies, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, Shia militias in Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen.

The group was designated as a terrorist organisation in the United States in 2019. The European Parliament passed a resolution calling for the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group in the EU in 2023 – but most member states did not implement the proscription.

Israel has been leading calls to proscribe the group.

Israel Katz, the state’s foreign minister, wrote on X three days after the Iranian drone attack on Israel, “Alongside the military response to the firing of the missiles and the UAVs, I am leading a diplomatic offensive against Iran,”

“This morning I sent letters to 32 countries and spoke with dozens of foreign ministers and leading figures around the world calling for sanctions to be imposed on the Iranian missile project and that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be declared a terrorist organization, as a way to curb and weaken Iran.”

Katz tagged the UK foreign minister at the time, Lord David Cameron, but did not explicitly specify which countries he had written to.

After the April attack on Israel, the Board of Deputies urged the Prime Minister to proscribe the IRGC, but Lord Cameron resisted the calls.

BoD president Phil Rosenberg said at the time, “Despite calls from UK allies, Iranian diaspora groups, and the Jewish community, that the IRGC should be proscribed in full, it is still allowed to operate in our country.”

Rosenberg added, “Without full proscription, it is legal to be a member of the IRGC, show support for it, and for it to organise in the UK.”

One communal source told the JC that prosciption could still be implemented: “We have been pushing for the proscription of the IRGC, but Labour is only on its second full day in government, let's be prudent and wait and see. IRGC prosciption would need a significant amendment of the National Security Bill and so it is no quick fix.”

The source added that they hoped the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) would be proscribed by the new government under current legislation.

Famed for various plane hijackings in the 1960s and 70s, the PFLP was one of eight different armed Palestinian factions that claimed partial responsibility for October 7, publishing celebratory photos of its members infiltrating IDF outposts in southern Israel.

The communal source told the JC, “It’s a crying shame that the Conservatives never proscribed PFLP when they were in government as the legislation is all there,” adding that pre-existing “non-state actor legislation fitted the PFLP like a glove.”

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