Iran shuts down nuclear facilities over fears of Israel attack

Israel said it would respond to the Iranian attack over the weekend.

An Iranian helicopter flies over an anti-aircraft gun at the Natanz uranium enrichment facilities some 200 miles (322 km) south of the capital Tehran, Iran Wednesday March 30, 2005. The central Iranian cities of Natanz and Isfahan house the heart of Iran's nuclear program. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into uranium hexaflouride gas. The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment. Iran's President Mohammad Khatami is scheduled to visit the Natanz and Isfahan facilities Wednesday, with the head of Iran's
An Iranian helicopter flies over an anti-aircraft gun at the Natanz uranium enrichment facilities some 200 miles (322 km) south of the capital Tehran. (Alamy)

Iran has closed down nuclear facilities in the country amid fears of a retaliatory attack from Israel, according to the United Nations.

UN inspectors in Iran "were informed by the Iranian government … all the nuclear facilities we are inspecting every day would remain closed on security considerations”, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said.

The move came as Iran threatened a ‘severe and widespread response’ to any Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strike amid fears of an escalation of the conflict in the Middle East.

World leaders are trying to ease tension following Iran’s first-ever direct attack on Israel on Saturday with a barrage of 300 missiles and drones.

On Monday, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu summoned his war cabinet for the second time in less than 24 hours to weigh their response.

The IDF’s chief of staff Herzi Halevi said afterwards that Israel would respond. He provided no details. "This launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles, and drones into Israeli territory will be met with a response," he said at the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel, which sustained some damage in Saturday night's attack.

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  • ‘Anything could happen’: Gaza Strip left hanging while Israel plots response to Iran’s attack

    RAFAH, GAZA - APRIL 16: Children are seen among the rubble of destroyed building following an Israeli strike hit the house belonging to a displaced family in Rafah, Gaza on April 16, 2024. Many buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged in the attack. (Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu via Getty Images)
    Israel has been carrying out airstrikes on Rafah, but a ground invasion of the southern city has been pending for some time. (Getty Images)

    As Israel weighs up plans to respond to Iran’s drone and missile attack, the fate of nearly 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip sheltering in the border town of Rafah hangs in the balance.

    Israel has said for weeks it is going to launch a ground operation into the last corner of the territory that has not seen fierce ground fighting, despite intense opposition from its closest allies.

    The military had planned to start dropping leaflets calling for an evacuation on Monday evening, CNN reported, but called the operation off after the Iranian attack. The war cabinet is now focused on weighing up options for retaliation but the government has insisted the operation will still go ahead.

    Read the full story from the Guardian here 

  • Spain and Slovenia call for recognition of Palestinian state

    Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez, left, addresses the media after meeting his Slovenian counterpart Robert Golob, right, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
    Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (left) with his Slovenian counterpart Robert Golob. (Alamy)

    Spain and Slovenia have both agreed on the need to formally recognise a Palestinian state as a way to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

    In a joint news conference with Spain's Pedro Sanchez, Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob said the most important thing is "when, not if", to make this recognition.

    He said Slovenia would vote in the United Nations Security Council for full membership of a Palestinian state. Sanchez is touring several European countries to promote support for Palestinian statehood.

    Spain, long a champion of Palestinian rights, last month agreed with the leaders of Ireland, Malta and Slovenia to take the first steps towards recognizing a Palestinian state.

    Israel has said the four EU countries' initiative would amount to a "prize for terrorism" that would reduce the chances of a negotiated resolution to the generations-old conflict.

    Arab states and the European Union agreed at a meeting in Spain in November that a two-state solution was the answer to the conflict. A two-state solution has long been the basis for international peace efforts, but these have been stalled for a decade.

    Since 1988, 139 out of 193 United Nations member states have recognised Palestinian statehood.

  • David Cameron calls for clarity on Iran nuclear programme

    April 16, 2024, London, England, United Kingdom: Foreign Secretary DAVID CAMERON leaves Downing Street after a Cabinet Meeting. (Credit Image: © Thomas Krych/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE!
    Lord David Cameron says the UK is discussing further sanctions against Iran with allies. (Alamy)

    The foreign secretary has called for “clear resolutions” from the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) on whether Iran is in breach of promises on nuclear non-proliferation.

    Asked about Iran’s drone and missiles attack on Israel, Lord David Cameron said: “We have sanctioned hundreds of people in Iran, we’ve sanctioned the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) in its entirety.

    “We will be discussing with the French and others further steps we can take in order to discourage Iran from this behaviour, further sanctions that should be put in place.

    “We also need to look at the work we do together at the International Atomic Energy Authority, where we do need to have clear resolutions where Iran is in breach of the promises it’s made.

    "When you look at this region, who is funding Hamas? Who is funding the Houthis? Who is funding Hezbollah? In every case, the answer is Iran."

    You can find out more about current UK sanctions against Iran here.

  • Israeli tanks push back into northern Gaza, locals say

    Parachutes drop supplies into the northern Gaza Strip, seen from southern Israel, Monday, April 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
    Parachutes dropping supplies into the northern Gaza Strip yesterday. (Alamy)

    Israeli tanks have pushed back into parts of the northern Gaza Strip which they had left weeks ago, medics and residents have said.

    Locals reported an internet outage in the areas of Beit Hanoun and Jabalia in northern Gaza. Tanks advanced into Beit Hanoun and surrounded some schools where displaced families have taken refuge, said the residents and Hamas-affiliated media in Gaza.

    "Occupation soldiers ordered all families inside the schools and the nearby houses where the tanks had advanced to evacuate. The soldiers detained many men," one resident of northern Gaza told the Reuters news agency via a chat app.

    Beit Hanoun, home to 60,000 people, was one of the first areas targeted by Israel's ground offensive in Gaza last October. Heavy bombardment turned most of Beit Hanoun, once known as 'the basket of fruit' because of its orchards, into a ghost town comprising piles of rubble.

    Many families who had returned to Beit Hanoun and Jabalia in recent weeks after Israeli forces withdrew, began moving out again on Tuesday because of the new raid, some residents said.

  • Turkey's Erdogan accuses Israel of 'trying to spark regional conflict'

    ANKARA, TURKIYE - APRIL 16: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY - MANDATORY CREDIT - 'TURKISH PRESIDENCY / MURAT CETINMUHURDAR / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan deliver a speech after the cabinet meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkiye on April 16, 2024. (Photo by TUR Presidency/Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Anadolu via Getty Images)
    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a staunch critic of Israel's war in Gaza. (Getty Images)

    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Israel's leadership is solely responsible for current tensions in the Middle East.

    "Israel is trying to provoke a regional conflict, and its attack on Iran's embassy in Damascus was the last drop," he told a press conference in Ankara after a cabinet meeting.

    He added that new regional conflicts were possible as long as the "cruelty and genocide" in Gaza continued, and called on all parties to act with common sense.

    He also criticised the West for condemning Iran's attack but not Israel's strike on an Iranian consulate building in Syria in early April.

    Turkey has been a staunch critic of Israel's offensive in Gaza and has imposed trade restrictions against the country. Israel is also expected to ban product from Turkey.

  • Hezbollah commander killed in Israeli strike in Lebanon

    The IDF has released aerial footage of an airstrike on a vehicle in Lebanon that killed Ismail Yusaf Baz, the commander of Hezbollah's coastal sector.

    Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Islamist militia group, has been carrying out rocket attacks from across Israel's northern border since the war triggered by the 7 October attacks.

  • Chris Froome’s wife calls Muslims ‘a drain on society’ in hateful Gaza rant

    Tour de France winner Britain's Chris Froome, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, holds son Kellan as his wife Michelle looks on on the Champs Elysees avenue after the twenty-first and last stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 103 kilometers (64 miles) with start in Montgeron and finish in Paris, France, Sunday, July 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    Tour de France winner Chris Froome holds son Kellan as his wife Michelle looks on on the Champs Elysees avenue in 2017. (Alamy)

    The wife of Chris Froome, a four-time Tour de France winner and former Team GB cyclist, has labelled Muslims “a drain on society” in a shocking social media outburst.

    The cyclist’s wife and agent, Michelle Froome, deleted her X/Twitter account after using the platform to launch the hateful tirade against the group in light of Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza.

    Michelle said she was “sick of sitting idly by quietly supporting Israel while the Hamas propaganda takes over social media.”

    Read the full story from the Independent here

  • Israel strike on Iran should end 'exchange of blows', Israeli MP hopes

    An Israeli army f-15 fighter jet flies over central Israel on April 15, 2024. (Photo by Menahem KAHANA / AFP) (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images)
    An Israeli f-15 fighter jet flies over central Israel. (Getty Images)

    When Israel responds to Iran's drone and missile strike its aim will be to send a message to Tehran and to draw a line under the current round of hostilities, a senior Israeli lawmaker has said.

    "We'll have to react. Iranians will know we reacted. And I sincerely hope that it will teach them a lesson that you can't attack a sovereign country just because you find it doable," Yuli Edelstein said.

    The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee chairman added: "I sincerely hope that they will understand that it's not in their interest to continue this kind of exchange of blows. We are not interested in a full-scale war. We are not, as I have said, in the business of revenge."

    Israel faces several challenges in planning a counter-attack, including war-weary Western allies, the risk to aircrews from any sorties against Iran, and the need to keep focus on the offensive in Gaza.

    Officials say the response will be agreed by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet.

  • Iran shuts nuclear facilities and cancels inspections over fears of attack

    Two technicians carry a box containig uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, at the Uranium Conversion Facility of Iran, just outside the city of Isfahan, 410 kilometers, 255 miles, south of the capital Tehran, Monday, Aug. 8, 2005. Iran resumed uranium conversion activities at the facility Monday. (AP Photo/Mehdi Ghasemi, ISNA)
    Technicians carry container of uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, at the Uranium Conversion Facility of Iran. (Alamy)

    Iran closed down its nuclear facilities amid fears of an Israeli attack, the United Nations has revealed.

    Inspectors were blocked from the sites on Sunday, Rafael Grossi, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency chief, said.

    The shutdown came as Israel’s war cabinet was locked in talks over how to respond to Iran’s first direct attack on its territory.

    Read the full story from the Telegraph here

  • UN demands end to Israeli forces’ support of settler attacks on West Bank Palestinians

    A Palestinian boy looks at burnt cars in the village of Qusra, near the West Bank city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, Sunday, April 14, 2024. Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank went on the largest rampage against Palestinians there since the war in Gaza began, as Israel's army said Saturday the body of a missing Israeli teen was found after he was killed in a
    A burnt out van in the village of Qusra, near the West Bank city of Nablus, on Sunday, after Israeli settlers went on a rampage against Palestinians. (AP)

    The United Nations has voiced grave concern over escalating violence in the West Bank, demanding that Israeli security forces “immediately” stop supporting settler attacks on Palestinians in the occupied territory.

    The statement from the UN’s human rights office was issued hours after two Palestinian men were killed by Israeli settlers in a northern village south of Nablus, in the latest violent attack involving settlers in the increasingly tense West Bank.

    Palestinians said the incident followed a clash when settlers entered Palestinian-owned land and assaulted residents, while settlers said it began with an assault on a Jewish person.

    Read the full story from the Guardian here

  • What is Iran’s elite IRGC wing and why is Britain refusing to ban them?

    Commanders and members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps meet with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran August 17, 2023. Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
    Commanders and members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps meet with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran last year. (Reuters)

    When the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was first established in the aftermath of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, it was nowhere near as powerful as it is today.

    Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the new Iranian leader, wanted to consolidate various militias into a single, regime-loyal force to counteract the power of the country’s official army and suppress internal dissent.

    But Saddam Hussein’s unprovoked invasion of Iran the following year provided the catalyst that would turn the IRGC into a military in its own right.

    Read the full story from the Telegraph here

  • Netanyahu 'refusing to take calls' from world leaders, Israeli media says

    El primer ministro israelí Benjamin Netanyahu en Jerusalén el 25 de junio de 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)
    Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly ignoring world leader's phone calls. (AP)

    Benjamin Netanyahu is ignoring phone calls from world leaders trying to influence his response to Iran's attack, according to Israeli media reports.

    Among those reportedly being given the cold shoulder is Rishi Sunak, who told MPs on Monday he would be speaking with the Israeli prime minister shortly to discuss "further escalation".

    It is reported that Netanyahu only spoke with US President Joe Biden on Saturday following Tehran's missile and drone strike.

    However, Sunak's official spokesperson said: “He has obviously been in discussions with his war cabinet. The foreign secretary and defence secretary have been speaking to their counterparts."

    Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron, who is reportedly set to visit Israel soon, has urged Tel Aviv to be “smart as well as tough” by not escalating the conflict with Iran.

  • Joe Biden unlikely to cut off Iran's oil lifeline

    Anchored oil tanker loaded with oil barrels in the Persian Gulf. Iran exports oil to South Asia and Eastern countries.
    An oil tanker loaded with barrels in the Persian Gulf. (Alamy)

    Washington may be threatening punitive measures against Iran, but it is unlikely to impose dramatic sanctions on its oil exports, according to analysts.

    They say Joe Biden is cautious due to worries about boosting oil prices across the world and angering top buyer China.

    House Republican leaders have accused Biden of failing to enforce existing measures and said they would take up this week a series of bills to sharpen sanctions on Iran.

    Late on Monday, the House passed a bill called the Iran-China Energy Sanctions Act, which would expand sanctions on Iran by requiring annual reports to determine whether Chinese financial institutions have participated in transactions on Iranian oil.

    It would ban US financial institutions from having accounts for any Chinese entities that engage in those deals. However, the bill faces an uncertain future in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

    Scott Modell, a former CIA officer, now CEO of Rapidan Energy Group, said that even if the bills pass, Biden's administration is unlikely to go "into overdrive" by curbing Iranian oil exports in "any meaningful way".

    One source familiar to the issue added: "If you really want to go after Iran's oil exports yes, you would have to take meaningful action against China. Are you really going to go after the big banks? Are you going to do something that the administration has not done and even the Trump administration did not do?"

  • US vows new sanctions to disrupt Iran's 'malign' activity

    An unidentified man is holding a model of Iran's first-ever hypersonic missile, Fattah, during a gathering to celebrate the IRGC UAV and missile attack against Israel, in Tehran, Iran, on April 15, 2024. Iran launched dozens of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and missiles against Israel on April 13th in response to the Israeli attack on its Consulate in Damascus. (Photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
    A man holds a model of Iran's first-ever hypersonic missile, Fattah, during a celebration on Monday of the recent drone and missile attack against Israel. (Getty Images)

    The US has said it will use sanctions to "continue disrupting the Iranian regime's malign and destabilising activity" following Tehran's recent attack on Israel.

    Janet Yellen, the US Treasury secretary, said Iran's attack, and its financing of militant groups in Gaza, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq, threatened stability in the Middle East and could cause economic spillovers.

    The US is already imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic, with the Treasury targeting more than 500 individuals and entities connected to terrorism and terrorist financing by the Iranian regime since the start of Joe Biden's presidency in 2021.

    "From this weekend’s attack to the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, Iran’s actions threaten the region’s stability and could cause economic spillovers," Yellen said, without giving details.

    Speaking at a news conference during this week's meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, she said Washington continues to use tools to pressure Hamas, but emphasised that sanctions should not impede life-saving aid.

    Yellen said Washington was also using sanctions to target extreme settler violence in the West Bank, while working to ensure a functioning banking system there and supporting IMF programs in Jordan and Egypt.

  • Iran tells Putin it is not interested in escalating conflict

    Novo-Ogaryovo, Russia. 09th Jan, 2024. Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks by phone with 8-year-old Kristina Sin from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, who took part in the New Year Tree of Wishes charity campaign from the official presidential residence, January 9, 2024 in Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region, Russia. Credit: Gavriil Grigorov/Kremlin Pool/Alamy Live News
    Russia's Vladimir Putin spoke with Iran's Ebrahim Raisi about the recent strikes. (Alamy)

    In a phone call to Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Tehran's strikes on Israel were limited and that the Islamic Republic is not interested in escalating the conflict, the Kremlin has said.

    Putin expressed hope that all sides would show reasonable restraint in order to prevent a confrontation that could have "catastrophic consequences for the entire region," officials in Moscow added.

    Russia and Iran, which have both been subject to sanctions by Western countries, are key trading partners with each other. Iranian-made drones have been used by Russia in its war in Ukraine.

    An Iranian "ghost fleet" has also been transporting Russian oil around the world since the war in Ukraine started, Business Insider reports.

  • Downing Street denies UK being taken for granted by Israel

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak giving a statement to MPs in the House of Commons, London, following the attack by Iran on Israel. Picture date: Monday April 15, 2024.
    Rishi Sunak pictured giving a statement to MPs in the House of Commons, London, following the attack by Iran on Israel. (PA)

    Downing Street has denied the UK is being “taken for granted” by Israel as time has still not been found for a call between Rishi Sunak and Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Asked if the UK was being taken for granted, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “No, I don’t think so. Obviously the PM has spoken multiple times to the Israeli prime minister.

    “It’s understandable, well-documented that he is the Israeli prime minister whose country faced a significant attack over the weekend. He has obviously been in discussions with his war cabinet.

    “As I said yesterday, the Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary have been speaking to their counterparts.”

    The spokesman added: “Our position has been made very clearly. We are now working with allies in the region, including Israel, to de-escalate the situation.”

  • Will there be dramatic sanctions on Iranian oil?

    Will there be dramatic sanctions on Iran's il exports? Experts weigh in

  • What we know as EasyJet cancels all flights to Israel for six months

    EasyJet has suspended all flights to Israel until late October due to concerns over increasing instability in the Middle East.

    It comes after Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel over the weekend, in what it said was revenge for an apparent Israeli airstrike in Damascus, Syria, that killed a number of senior Iran military commanders.

    Read the full story from Yahoo News.

  • Iran-Israel conflict: Is my flight safe, will I be re-routed and what if I missed my connection?

    The world is watching with concern the increasing tension in the Middle East and the potential next steps. But already the effects of Iran’s attack on Israel on Saturday night, and wider worries about the unstable situation, has had a significant impact on aviation, writes Simon Calder for The Independent.

    Airline passengers flying to, from or via the Middle East are facing disruption. Flights to and from the UK have been cancelled or diverted, and detours around the region are jeopardising flight connections – particularly at Gulf airports.

    Read the full story from The Independent.

  • Is it safe to visit Dubai? Latest UAE travel advice

    Dubai, one of the seven emirates of the UAE, attracts more than a million heat-seeking British holidaymakers every year.

    However, following the outbreak of war in Israel and Gaza, the recent drone attack carried out by Iran on Israel and tensions with Houthi rebels in the southern Red Sea, some people may be concerned about the safety of travelling to the Middle East right now.

    Here’s everything you need to know about travel to Dubai and the rest of the UAE, whether it is safe to visit, and your rights if you do decide to cancel your upcoming holiday.

    Read the full story from The Telegraph.

  • Yousaf calls for ‘cool heads’ to prevent escalation in Middle East

    Edinburgh Scotland, UK 28 March 2024. First Minister Humza Yousaf MSP at the Scottish Parliament for First Minister Questions. credit sst/alamy live news
    Scotland's first minister Humza Yousaf said there have not been the coolest of heads about the escalating crisis in the Middle East. (sst/alamy live news)

    It is a “tragedy” that there does not seem to be the “coolest of heads” in the Middle East to prevent further escalation, Scotland’s First Minister has said.

    Humza Yousaf and the Scottish government has been among the voices calling for de-escalation in the region following the thwarted Iranian attack on Israel to prevent a wider war.

    Prime minister Rishi Sunak is also expected to urge restraint when he speaks to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, while the foreign secretary David Cameron pushed them to be “smart as well as tough” by not escalating the conflict.

    Read the full story from PA.

  • Former ambassador analyses why Iran attacked Israel

    Former ambassador to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Sudan, William Patey, analyses Iran's attack on Israel.

  • Equities sink, oil rallies on fears of Iran-Israel conflict

    Stock markets fell and oil prices climbed Tuesday on growing fears of a wider war in the Middle East after Israel's army chief vowed a response to Iran's unprecedented attack on his country at the weekend.

    The selling came after Wall Street's three main indexes tanked in response to forecast-beating US retail sales data that reinforced the view that the world's top economy remained in rude health and further dented hopes for interest rate cuts this year.

    Read the full story from AFP.

  • Opinion: Biden said 'don't,' but Iran attacked anyway. How should Israel respond now?

    President Joe Biden listens as he meets with Iraq's Prime Minister Shia al-Sudani in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    President Joe Biden pictured in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, April 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    We’re still here.

    Overnight Saturday, Iran launched 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles and 120 ballistic missiles at Israel. It also directed its proxies in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon to fire drones and missiles at the Jewish state, writes Aviva Klompas for USA Today.

    Hours earlier, I was on the stage in Tel Aviv’s "Hostage Square," speaking before the assembled crowd. My message was simple: “We are not going to accept that any of this is normal or acceptable.”

    Read the full story from USA Today.

  • Tehran, Iran. 18th Aug, 2023. The high-ranking commanders and members of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) attend during a meeting with the Iranian president. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, also called Sepah or Pasdaran, is a multi-service primary branch of the Iranian Armed Forces. It was officially established by Ruhollah Khomeini as a military branch in May 1979, in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution. Whereas the Iranian Army protects the country's sovereignty in a traditional capacity, the IRGC's constitutional mandate is to ensure the integrity of the Islamic Rep
    The high-ranking commanders and members of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) pictured last year during a meeting with the Iranian president. (AP)

    Former head of MI6 Sir John Sawers has said he does not think it is necessary to ban Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), PA reports.

    Asked about the pressure prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces to ban the group, Sawers told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t think it’s necessary.

    “The counter-terrorism legislation was designed to deal with terrorist groups, it’s not designed to deal with states.

    “Now, Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism, there’s no doubt about that, but a state poses a much more substantial threat than a terrorist organisation does.

    “Parliament passed only last year a new Intelligence and Security Act that gave MI5 the powers it needs to defend this country.

    “Now, if the head of MI5 came out and said ‘I really need a proscription of the Revolutionary Guards in order to protect this country against the plotting they’re doing here’, well, that would be one thing, but I’m not hearing that.

    “I don’t think the professionals in the government are calling for this. I think it’s more of a rhetorical position of people in various parts of the political spectrum looking for something to do without really thinking through the substance of it.”

  • IDF chief of staff says Israel will respond to Iran missile attack in new video message

    Israel’s armed forces chief has said Israel will respond to Iran’s missile attack as he thanked Britain for its support.

    IDF chief Herzi Halevi said the country “will respond accordingly” as he praised the support from the US, Britain, France and other partners for their participation in what Israel has labelled Operation Iron Shield.

    Watch the full video from The Independent.

  • Israel must not fall into a trap of retaliation and risk disaster, warns ex top diplomat Alon Pinkas

    Israel is facing a “major dilemma” over whether to retaliate against Iran’s unprecedented drone and missile attack, a top former Israeli diplomat has said.

    Alon Pinkas, chief advisor to two Israeli prime ministers, said an Israeli response could risk a wider escalation of the war but ignoring the assault could allow Iran to “attack with impunity”.

    Describing Tehran’s onslaught overnight on Saturday as a “potential game-changer” due to directly targeting Israel, he said it was crucial for Tel Aviv to consider carefully its next move.

    Read the full story from The Independent.

  • Sunak's resistance to ban IRGC could be an attempt to maintain ties with Tehran, minister says

    Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak records a statement on the Iranian attacks on Israel overnight, inside 10 Downing Street, London, Sunday, April 14, 2024. Israel praised the success of its defenses in the face of an unprecedented attack by Iran involving hundreds of drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. (Benjamin Cremel/Pool via AP)
    Rishi Sunak is under pressure to ban the IRGC. (AP)

    A desire to maintain diplomatic ties with Tehran could be behind Rishi Sunak’s reluctance to ban Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a minister has suggested.

    The prime minister has resisted calls from senior Tories to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation.

    Home Office minister Laura Farris told Sky News: “Nobody is denying that they are a malign force. We have repeatedly sanctioned both individual commanders and the IRGC more generally, so that puts very severe restrictions on their ability to move and on other freedoms that they would have had. We are not suggesting they are not a problem.”

    She said the foreign secretary, David Cameron, had highlighted that “at the moment we have a direct diplomatic channel, a direct line of communication, to Tehran even though relations are difficult and those conversations are not always easy”.

    “There is actually something positive about being able to have face-to-face diplomatic relations and at this point in time there is something for that,” she said.

    But Sunak is in contact with counterparts from the G7 group of leading democracies and “all of this stuff remains under review, all of it is part of what’s being considered along with further sanctions”.

  • Israel-Iran 'on the edge of the cliff'

    The main news overnight was that Israel has vowed to respond to Iran's 300 drone and missile blitz on Saturday night.

    On Monday, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned his war cabinet for the second time in less than 24 hours.

    Military chief of staff Herzi Halevi said Israel would respond, but provided no details.

    "This launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles, and drones into Israeli territory will be met with a response," he said at the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel, which sustained some damage in Saturday night's attack.

    US President Joe Biden told Netanyahu at the weekend that the United States, which helped Israel blunt the Iranian attack, will not participate in an Israeli counter-strike.

    Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have all appealed for Israel to show restraint. Washington and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also have called for restraint.

    "We're on the edge of the cliff and we have to move away from it," Josep Borrell, the European Union's foreign affairs chief, told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

    White House national security spokesman John Kirby declined on Monday to say if Biden urged Netanyahu in talks on Saturday night to exercise restraint in responding to Iran.

    "We don't want to see a war with Iran. We don't want to see a regional conflict," Kirby told a briefing, adding that it was for Israel to decide "whether and how they'll respond."

  • Sunak urged to proscribe Iran’s Revolutionary Guards

    Good morning - and welcome to today's live coverage of the ongoing Iran-Israel conflict.

    While the two main protagonists weigh up what steps to take next, in the UK Rishi Sunak has been urged by senior Conservative figures to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terror group.

    Tory former cabinet ministers Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Suella Braverman urged Sunak to take the step following Iran’s missile and drone barrage over Israeli airspace, which the UK and other allies joined efforts to thwart.

    Sunak swerved responding directly to such a proposal in the Commons, saying: “We are urgently working with our allies to see what steps we can take together in a co-ordinated fashion to deter and condemn what Iran is doing.”

    On Tuesday, former head of MI6 Sir John Sawers said he did not think it was necessary to ban the IRGC.

    He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t think it’s necessary. The counter-terrorism legislation was designed to deal with terrorist groups, it’s not designed to deal with states."