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UK Must ‘Steer Its Own Ship’ On Iran Policy, Claims MP

Wednesday, 06/07/2023

One of the UK’s leading MPs has claimed the country must break away from US and EU-led policy and take an independent approach against the Iranian regime.

Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith told the House of Parliament this week: “Iran presents one of the most immediate threats to the UK’s national interest and domestic security.”

Clarke-Smith, who called for full proscription of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC), said more action must be taken against the regime as it gets closer to nuclear armament and continues its support of terror.

“The UK can play a decisive role here. Thanks to Brexit and our newly acquired autonomous sanctions capabilities, the UK has more room to act in this space than the EU,” he said.

Slamming the softly-softly Biden administration approach, he said separating Iran policy into different areas such as human rights abuses, the nuclear program, ballistic missiles and support for terrorism, is not working.

He said: “History has shown that those policy areas can only ever be dealt with as a whole, and it is my contention that the failed approach is no longer tenable, and that the UK should take the opportunity to pursue an independent Iran policy and steer our own ship.”

The British government has failed to ban the IRGC more than four months after MPs voted for it. The House of Commons unanimously passed a motion in January to urge the government to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist group.

Although the vote was not binding, it put pressure on ministers to respond to violence against protesters in Iran by security forces controlled by the IRGC.

Clarke-Smith said that even sanctioning the IRGC in its entirety fails to adequately reflect the extent of the threat posed by the Islamic Republic’s brutal enforcers. "Reports suggest that the UK has come under pressure from the Biden Administration over the question of proscription, which jars with their active decision not to delist the organisation from their own proscription list. The UK Government must pay no heed to these overtures and instead put our national security interests first,” he urged MPs.

Defending the lack of proscription, The Minister of State for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Andrew Mitchell, told the House of Commons: “We take very seriously the threatening behaviour of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Not only have we sanctioned the organisation in its entirety, but we have sanctioned 29 individuals and entities affiliated with it since last October.

“That includes the Basij force—the arm of the IRGC that is mobilised to enforce brutal repression on the streets of Iran—and, most recently, four commanders under whose leadership IRGC forces have opened fire on arbitrarily detained and tortured protesters.”

Armored police vehicles are seen outside the headquarters of Iran International in November 2022

In February, Iran International was forced to close its offices in London after continued state-backed threats to the team led to security officials saying they could no longer protect reporters and staff. Forced to move operations to Washington DC, the issue became one of the sticking points as to the UK’s refusal to crack down on Iranian threats on British soil.

At the same time, police and the security services claimed to have foiled at least 15 plots by Iran to either kidnap or kill British or UK-based individuals it considers “enemies of the regime” since January 2022.

The toll of attempted assassinations and abductions was made public hours after Iran International announced it had moved operations to the US. Just last month, Masih Alinejad, a leading Iranian dissident based in the US, was put under 24-hour police protection during a visit to the UK after the Metropolitan police received credible threats to her life.

Now, calls are being made to close a British charity run by the UK representative of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after the aid watchdog removed its trustees over links to Iran.

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