Tehran Calling

The Iranian Threat to the UK

April 15, 2024

A new report by Policy Exchange ‘Tehran calling: The Iranian threat to the UK’ exposes the extent to which the Islamic Republic of Iran poses a unique challenge to both the security and social cohesion of the United Kingdom. 

Iran is a hostile state in the style of Russia or China: it seeks to interfere with our online systems and takes British citizens hostage. Yet Iran also seeks to wield social and cultural influence in this country, declaring and imposing blasphemy codes, and creating institutions that project power and influence.

This report also asks a major question of both the Home Secretary and the Security Services. It is clear whose job it is to protect the UK from Iranian state terrorism: the police and the security services. But whose job is it to counter Iranian state-led subversion – the process whereby Iran tries to influence political, religious, educational or cultural organisations in this country?

Subversion, once a core task of MI5, appears to have been removed from the contemporary focus of the Security Service. Until recently, MI5 stated on its website “We no longer undertake counter-subversion work, and would only resume doing so if our monitoring of emerging threats suggested an increase in the subversive threat.” The idea that Iran may be seeking to influence British Muslims, and that it may be someone’s job to stop this, has not been openly articulated by the Security Service.

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Dr Paul Stott

Head of Security and Extremism

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