Britain is approaching the ban of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and designating it as a terrorist organization. A British right-wing think tank has warned that the expiration of United Nations sanctions in October, which limit Iran’s missile program, must become a strict deadline for the United Kingdom to adopt a tougher policy that includes banning the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
According to the British newspaper The Guardian, the report issued by the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) is the second within two days from a centrist-right think tank calling for stricter actions on Iran. It suggests that the preferred strategy for UK ministers to introduce a specific Iranian sanctions regime could lead to a relaxation of the sanctions imposed on activities outside Iran by Conservative Party hawks.
Ban on the Revolutionary Guard
The British newspaper reports that the UK government has been considering the possibility of banning the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for months but has rejected the option due to fear of diplomatic repercussions with Tehran. The Foreign Office’s decision, announced two weeks ago, to give shadow Home Secretary in the Labour Party, Yvette Cooper, a political space this week to call for the ban on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is the first time a government agency has been classified as terrorist by the UK government.
It is understood that Jonathan Hall, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism, believes that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard can be banned through a minor amendment to the National Security Law.
The newspaper also noted that the HJS intervention comes after another centrist-right think tank, Policy Exchange, argued that the UK needs an Iran policy that recognizes the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a state sponsor of terrorism.
It stated that Iran will be able to supply Russia with advanced ballistic missiles for use in Ukraine from October when the sanctions are lifted. Conservative Party hawks are now looking for an opportunity to form a cross-party alliance with Labour on the issue of banning the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
The British newspaper clarified that the new sanctions regime proposed by ministers requires legislation, and discussions are ongoing among those MPs who want to take a tougher stance on Iran regarding whether the legislation can be amended to include the ban. The report written by HJS states that the track record of sanctions has proven to be ineffective, and expanding the criteria for imposing sanctions against Iran will do nothing to enhance its minimal practical effect. It also argues that the preferred policy once favored by Rishi Sunak, the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, would be much more impactful.
The newspaper added that while 76 organizations are currently banned by the UK government, the majority of them being extremist Islamic groups, none of them are regarded as part of a state. HJS argues that the UK government has opposed the ban on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for legal reasons because doing so would consider Iran a state sponsor of terrorism. Hall stated in a memo written in January last year that the consistent policy of the UK government is to treat terrorism by states as falling outside the Terrorism Act 2000. It appears to be a political position rather than an interpretation of the act.
However, the HJS report states, “Further delay in the ban will only serve to embolden the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and will continue to set an example that other countries can follow, where they can incorporate non-state hostile entities into their official government structures to avoid sanctions laws in the UK.” They argue that a strict final deadline must be set in October to decide on the ban and reimpose United Nations sanctions.