Lord David Cameron appears to rule out proscribing Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

Lord Cameron has appeared to rule out the Iranian regime's military arm being proscribed as a terrorist group, as he wants to maintain diplomatic relations with Tehran.

The foreign secretary explained the government's stance in an appearance before the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee.

Lord Cameron was asked about the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which carries out operations both inside and outside Iran.

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This is reported to include capturing ships and launching missiles at Syria and Iraq, and the recent attacks against Israel.

There have been calls for the UK to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist group, but Lord Cameron said this was not necessary and the current status of the group being sanctioned as a whole is a strong enough stance.

He told the committee: "All of the things we need to do to put pressure on Iran, and to make sure that where they act illegally we can act against them, are in place through our sanctions regime that we have enhanced.

"We have sanctioned the IRGC in its entirety. When I ask law enforcement, police, intelligence services, others, is this extra step of proscription necessary in order to take further action against these people when they do the things that we disapprove of, the answer is no."

He added: "There is a disadvantage, to be frank about it, from proscription, which is it would effectively end diplomatic relations, and while our diplomatic relations are pretty terse, and I say that with meaning as someone who has had very many conversations with the Iranian foreign minister, we are actually able to have that conversation.

"When it comes to trying to stop the escalation of the conflict, when it comes to delivering a very direct message to the Iranians... I want to have that conversation myself, I don't want to ring up my French counterpart and say 'could you message the Iranians with this message?'

"I think that is not in Britain's interest, that wouldn't strengthen our approach, in many ways it would weaken it."

Read more:
What are Iran's military capabilities?
What impact would proscribing the IRGC have?

Rishi Sunak faced renewed calls to proscribe the IRGC following Iran's direct attack on Israel earlier in April.

In response, the UK promised diplomatic action alongside the G7, and later sanctioned Iran's ability to create and launch drones, as well as parts of the IRGC.

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Among those calling for the IRGC to be proscribed as a terrorist organisation at the time were former home secretary Suella Braverman and former work and pensions secretary Sir Iain Duncan Smith.

Proscription would mean that being a member of or supporting the IRGC would be against the law.