Tuesday

22nd Jan 2019

Iran blamed for four terror plots in EU

  • EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif in 2016 (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

Iran ordered four terrorist attacks in Europe in recent times, the EU has said, while imposing new sanctions.

Its agents plotted to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in France and to assassinate an opposition member in Denmark last year.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Iran counter-accused the EU of sheltering anti-Iranian "terrorists" (Photo: Recovering Sick Soul)

They also murdered two opposition members in the Netherlands in 2015 and 2017, the Dutch foreign ministry revealed on Tuesday (8 January).

Member states' officials in Brussels the same day added the names of two Iranian nationals and of Iran's main spy agency to the EU's counter-terrorism register.

The move froze the assets and banned entry to the EU of Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat suspected of plotting the French attack, and Saeid Hashemi Moghadam, a senior intelligence official.

It also froze the assets of the directorate for internal security of the Iranian ministry for intelligence and security.

The sanctions were the first imposed by the EU since world powers and Iran agreed a nuclear arms control treaty three years ago.

The EU lifted financial, oil and gas, and transport sector sanctions in line with the nuclear accord.

It maintained an arms embargo and a ban on missile technology, however.

It also maintained a travel ban and asset freezes of 82 Iranians and one entity on grounds of human rights abuse.

The Dutch government had "strong indications that Iran was involved in the assassinations of [the] two Dutch nationals of Iranian origin" in 2015 and 2017 Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok said in a letter to the Dutch parliament justifying Tuesday's move.

"Hostile acts of this kind flagrantly violate the sovereignty of the Netherlands and are unacceptable," he said.

"Iran is expected to cooperate fully in removing the present concerns and, where necessary, aiding in criminal investigations. If such cooperation is not forthcoming, further sanctions cannot be ruled out," Blok added.

The new sanctions were a "strong signal from the EU" that it "would not accept" assassination plots on its territory, Denmark's foreign minister Anders Samuelsen said.

"EU stands united - such actions are unacceptable and must have consequences," Danish prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen added.

The EU move was welcomed by the US.

"Important day for European foreign policy!," US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said on Twitter the same day.

"Iran and Hezbollah have terrorised Europe since 1979," he added, referring to an Iranian-backed militant group in Lebanon.

He also posted a map showing 14 alleged Iranian attacks in EU countries, as well as Albania and Turkey, in the past 39 years.

Pompeo's reaction came amid an EU-US rift on Iran after US leader Donald Trump walked out of the Iran nuclear arms control deal last year and threatened sanctions against EU firms who did business there.

The EU is currently trying to create special payment channels to shield EU companies from Trump's wrath while keeping Iran on board with the nuclear pact.

Pompeo had previously said he was "disturbed and ... deeply disappointed" by the EU.

But his good cheer on Tuesday was matched by a hostile reaction from Iran.

"Europeans, including Denmark, Holland, and France, harbour MEK - who killed 12,000 Iranians and abetted Saddam's crimes against Iraqi Kurds - as well as other terrorists staging murder of innocent Iranians from Europe," Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif said on Twitter.

The Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) is an Iranian opposition group with branches in EU states. Saddam Hussein was the former leader of Iraq.

"Accusing Iran won't absolve Europe of responsibility for harbouring terrorists," Zarif, who had earlier complained about slow progress on EU nuclear sanctions relief, added.

EU firms in Iran caught between US and Europe

European companies with business in Iran appear caught in a tug of war between the European Union and Washington. The US demands they leave Iran or face sanctions. The European Union says remain in Iran or face penalties a home.

Interview

Turkish NBA star takes on Erdogan

Turkish NBA basketball star, Enes Kanter, gave up joining teammates in a London match over fears of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's reach into the EU.

News in Brief

  1. EU hits Mastercard with €570m fine
  2. Romanian minister prepares to cancel corruption cases
  3. Sefcovic: no gas supply problems this winter
  4. Report: Commission warning on passport-sale schemes
  5. France summons Italian ambassador over colonial remark
  6. May U-turn on fee for EU nationals in UK
  7. French data watchdog gives Google €50m fine
  8. EU hits Russians with sanctions over Salisbury attack

Analysis

China's 2019 growth outlook

As China's growth seems to be slowing, some observers see the country amid what the New York Times called a "severe downturn". As they mistake China's secular deceleration with cyclical fluctuations, they miss the rapid increase in Chinese living standards.

Opinion

The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. May pushes defeated Brexit deal, offers no Plan B
  2. European Parliament targets 'fake' political groups
  3. What is fate of non-euro EU states after Brexit?
  4. Turkish NBA star takes on Erdogan
  5. 'Meme ban' still on table in EU copyright bill, says MEP
  6. Brexit power grab by MPs hangs over May's 'Plan B'
  7. Polish mayor's funeral marred by Tusk TV dispute
  8. Salvini and Kaczynski - the new 'axis' powers?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us