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UK lawmakers urge government to designate Iran’s IRGC, replace nuclear deal

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UK lawmakers urged Britain on Wednesday to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, declare Tehran’s detention of foreign nationals as “state hostage taking,” and work towards brokering a comprehensive deal to replace the current nuclear deal.

Read more: Iran’s Khamenei says US hostility toward Iran will continue after Trump

The UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee released a report on Wednesday urging Britain to take a tougher approach with Iran.

Proscribing the IRGC

The UK should designate Iran’s primary military force the IRGC a terrorist organization, a move taken by the US in 2019, the committee’s report said.

Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade. (File photo: AFP)
Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade. (File photo: AFP)

“The actions of the IRGC meet the criteria for proscription in the Terrorism Act 2000, due to its clear and enduring support for terrorists and non-state actors working to undermine stability in the region,” the report said.

Replacing the JCPOA

Parliament members also urged the UK to work to broker a more comprehensive agreement to replace the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which they described as a “shell of an agreement.”

Read more: US designates Iran-backed Bahrain-based group as global terror organization

“Despite good intentions, the JCPOA was an agreement built on weak foundations. The slow death of the nuclear deal seems to have been inevitable and, following the actions in the [Iranian parliament], it now appears beyond repair,” Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks to the media as he meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Friday, April 22, 2016, in New York. (AP)
US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks to the media as he meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Friday, April 22, 2016, in New York. (AP)

“The UK government should work to broker a replacement to the JCPOA, which also addresses regional security,” Tugendhat said.

Earlier this month, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said that a new broader Iran nuclear accord must be reached and that the 2015 deal was no longer enough.

Tehran has rejected calls to renegotiate the JCPOA.

‘State hostage taking’

Iran’s detention of foreign and dual nationals amounts to “state hostage taking,” the report said.

A prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison June 13, 2006. (AP)
A prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison June 13, 2006. (AP)

“The UK Government must call the arbitrary detention of foreign nationals what it is: hostage taking,” Tugendhat said.

“The charges, trials and convictions of British citizens on Iranian soil are a parody of a justice system … Using young mothers and retirees as bargaining chips and leverage is an unacceptable form of diplomacy,” he added.

The UK’s current approach to seeking the release of detainees is “clearly not working,” the report said, adding that a “more decisive, coordinated approach is needed.”

Several dual and foreign nationals are also currently under arrest in Iran, including Iranian-Swedish scientist Ahmadreza Djalali, British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and German-Iranian architect Nahid Taghavi.

A flyer of Ahmadreza Djalali during a protest outside the Iranian embassy in Brussels, Feb. 13, 2017. (AFP)
A flyer of Ahmadreza Djalali during a protest outside the Iranian embassy in Brussels, Feb. 13, 2017. (AFP)

The Iranian regime is accused of pursuing a “hostage-taking” policy by arresting foreign nationals on trumped-up charges and using them as hostages to try to win concessions from other countries.

“The UK should also prioritize using Magnitsky sanctions to target specific Iranian human rights abusers,” the report said.

Iranians are biggest victims of regime

The Iranian people are the regime’s “greatest victims,” the report said, urging the UK to support those “suffering under the violence of the regime.”

“The greatest victims of the Iranian regime are the Iranian people themselves … for too long innocent Iranians have suffered violence and human rights violations at the hands of their own government,” Tugendhat said.

Iranians wearing protective masks are pictured at a bus, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Tehran, Iran November 11, 2020. (Reuters)
Iranians wearing protective masks are pictured at a bus, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Tehran, Iran November 11, 2020. (Reuters)

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