March 28, 2023 | Flash Brief

Activist’s Hunger Strike Persists as UK Fails to Designate IRGC as Terrorist Group

March 28, 2023 | Flash Brief

Activist’s Hunger Strike Persists as UK Fails to Designate IRGC as Terrorist Group

Latest Developments

An Iranian-British citizen’s hunger strike outside the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office entered its 34th day today as London continues its refusal to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. Vahid Beheshti, 46, a journalist and human rights activist, says his strike will continue until the IRGC’s designation, which Rishi Sunak promised to implement when he was a candidate for prime minister. On Monday, Beheshti met with UK Security Minister Tom Tugendhat, who pledged that the government would proscribe the IRGC but offered no timeframe for the designation.

Expert Analysis

“The UK should quit stalling and designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Tehran perceives British inaction as weakness, and further delay will only encourage Iran to continue threatening UK citizens on British soil. By proscribing the IRGC, the British government would send Iran a clear message that the clerical regime faces meaningful consequences for its terrorist activities.” Tzvi Kahn, FDD Research Fellow and Senior Editor

Pressure Builds

On Monday, Beheshti released a second open letter to Prime Minister Sunak demanding a meeting to discuss the IRGC’s potential designation as a terrorist organization. The letter said Beheshti “would like to take this opportunity to remind you that every day that the IRGC is able to operate freely in the UK, is a day that British citizens’ lives as well as our democratic values are at risk. All of which also allows the IRGC to further its oppressive agenda against defenseless Iranian people.”

Iran Threatens the UK

Iran has long threatened the UK. In February, Iran International, a Farsi-language news channel often critical of Tehran, announced it would relocate from London to Washington due to threats against its staff. In November, Ken McCallum, head of MI5, Britain’s domestic security agency, said that there have been at least 10 potential Iranian threats in 2022 to kidnap or kill British or UK-based individuals whom Tehran perceives as its enemies. In 2015, police discovered an Iranian-backed bomb factory in London.

Broad Support in UK, Europe for Proscribing IRGC

In January 2023, the European Parliament, by a vote of 598 to 9 with 31 abstentions, urged the European Union (EU) to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization. In the same month, the UK House of Commons unanimously voted in favor of a motion urging the British government to proscribe the IRGC. If these efforts succeed, the EU and the UK would join the United States, which designated the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2019. However, the EU and UK have failed to act, apparently out of fear that proscribing the IRGC would undermine prospects for future nuclear negotiations with Tehran.

Related Analysis

EU, UK Impose New Sanctions on Iran as Protests Surge,” FDD Flash Brief

Calls to Designate IRGC as Terrorist Organization Grow in the UK,” FDD Flash Brief


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Sanctions Iran-backed Terrorism Sanctions and Illicit Finance