Lord Cameron resists calls to proscribe the IRGC in wake of Iran attack

The Board of Deputies has called for the military force to be outlawed in Britain following Iran’s attack against Israel


An Iranian government supporter holds a photo of Qasem Soleimani, the former commander of the IRGC's Quds Forces, as he celebrates an attack against Israel (Photo: Hossein Beris/AFP)

Foreign Secretary David Cameron has pushed back against growing calls to proscribe Iran’s powerful Guards Corps after the Islamic Republic launched its first direct attack against Israel.

A raft of prominent figures, including the Israeli government and the Board of Deputies, have said that the IRGC should be outlawed in Britain as a terror group.

Lior Haiat, a spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said proscription would be an “initial price” for Iran’s “large-scale and unprecedented” aggression in which hundreds of projectiles were fired at Israel in the late hours of Saturday.

Writing to Lord Cameron, Board President Marie van der Zyl praised the RAF for their work shooting down the Iranian drones. 

"Our community is encouraged by the fact that our nation's air force was part of this response,” she wrote.

Van der Zyl continued: “I am also writing, on behalf of the British Jewish community, to reiterate our request that the Iranian regime's IRGC… be proscribed as a terrorist organisation in its entirety.

"The IRGC's role in funding, arming and training a host of terror proxies, including Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis, is clear. Their direct threat, both to Iranian dissidents in this country - one of whom was stabbed outside his own home last month - and to the Jewish community, is also apparent.

"We sincerely hope that given this latest escalation by the Iranian regime, our Government will see fit to take this important and highly meaningful step.”

Labour’s shadow defence secretary told The Guardian his party had been pushing for a ban for “well over a year”.

He added: “It’s the leading edge of the threat that Iran poses not just to Israel, but to Arab countries and western interests right across the region.

“It’s the way that the Iranians sponsor and support violent military militia groups that destabilise the region and threaten other countries as well.”

Discussing the IRGC on Monday, however, Lord Cameron declined to commit to proscription.

He said: “We recognise what a dangerous organisation it is. We have sanctioned it and put in place a regime to do more of this work. I keep this under review but the police and security services say they have the powers to deal with it here or elsewhere.”

The government will “continue to look” at further sanctions it could apply to Iran, he added.

The IRGC, established following Iran’s 1979 islamic revolution, is committed to defending the nation’s regime and its foreign interests.

Following Iran’s attack against Israel, its commander, Brigadier General Hussein Salami, celebrated the drone and missile assault on what he described as the “Zionist’s regime’s evil acts”.

While America proscribed the IRGC in 2019, US diplomats have reportedly advised the British government behind closed doors to avoid a ban in order to maintain diplomatic ties with the Iranian regime.

On Sunday Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said IRGC proscription was kept under “constant review”.

But, she added, “there is a point of the value of being able to have a direct conversation with the Iranian authorities in the way that has already happened, there is a value in that, to be able to land those messages directly with Iran.”

In January, the British government announced that 15 threats to kill British nationals or UK-linked individuals had been made since 2022. 

Last year, Security Minister Tom Tugendhat confirmed a JC exclusive that the Iranian government spied on Jews in Britain and plotted to kill them.

“Between 2020 and 2022, Iran tried to collect intelligence on UK-based Israeli and Jewish individuals,” he told the House of Commons.

“We believe this information was a preparation for future lethal operations.”

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