For several years, LFI has warned about the activities and agenda of the Islamic Republic of Iran which not only poses an existential threat to Israel, but also a substantial threat to Britain. 

Iran is a hugely destabilising force in the Middle East. Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution was never designed to be confined to within Iran’s borders. Thus, with financial assistance, guidance and training provided by the regime’s ideological warriors, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Tehran has established and commands a broad network of Shia militant proxy armies and terror groups, such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Houthis. Iran’s strategic goal is the completion of an “arc of influence” – a land bridge connecting Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea and the Israeli border. The completion of the land link would allow for the free flow of arms, soldiers and oil from Hezbollah in the Golan to Iran, via Syria and Assadist forces and Shia-controlled Iraq. 

Alongside its proxy armies, Tehran has a burgeoning ballistic missile arsenal and appears to be actively pursuing a nuclear weapons programme with repeated and continual breaches of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action. These developments are concerning not simply because Iran has the Middle East’s largest and most diverse missile arsenal, with a range of up to 2,000km but because of its status as the only country that openly calls for the annihilation of another state.  

The regime’s pernicious activities overseas are matched by a malign record at home. Over the past four decades, Iran’s human rights record has consistently been one of the worst in the world. Dissent is rarely tolerated and ruthlessly put down. In the protests and clampdown which followed the death at the hands of the “morality police” of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September 2022, approximately 500 protesters, including at least 68 children, were killed by the security forces and almost 20,000 people were arrested. In 2023, Iran executed over 700 people – a significant increase on 2022 – with the widespread use of torture; severe restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly and the rights of women; and the targeting of human rights and union activists, lawyers, journalists, students and minorities, including the LGBTQ+ community and religious minorities. 

LFI has led the way in calling for the British government to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation. Labour supports proscription, and set out the legislative changes necessary to make it happen. Outlining his decision, the shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy stated: “The Iranian regime’s actions against courageous protestors seeking a better future, as well as British nationals imprisoned in Iran and its threats to UK security mean robust action is needed now. The IRGC is behaving like a terrorist organisation and must now be proscribed as such.” Labour reiterated its commitment to proscribe the IRGC at LFI’s 2023 annual lunch. 

LFI previously played a leading role in the effort to persuade the British government to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety in the UK, with our former chair, Joan Ryan, at the forefront of parliamentary efforts. This work came to fruition in January 2019, when the government agreed that there was no meaningful distinction between Hezbollah’s political and military wings and proscribed the former. Another former chair, Dame Louise Ellman, repeatedly highlighted – and called for an end to – protestors parading Hezbollah flags at the annual Al-Quds Day march in London. 

LFI also works to highlight the danger posed by Iran’s ballistic missile programme. As Michael Herzog, former head of the IDF’s strategic planning and now Israel’s ambassador to the United States, argued in LFI’s publication on Iran, “missiles would serve as the main delivery system for a nuclear weapon. At the same time, missiles, rockets and, increasingly, armed drones are proliferated by Iran as a central tool in its regional power projection.” 

Our chair, Steve McCabe MP, led calls for the British government to act before the Iranian missile ban lapsed, as well as raising concerns about the expiry of sanctions covering Tehran’s ballistic missile programme. 

LFI has exposed Iran’s appalling human rights record and the past failures of the government to impose Magnitsky sanctions – which are designed to promote human rights and punish corruption. We were pleased that David Lammy has echoed our calls for employing such sanctions.