Wednesday

30th Sep 2020

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

EU urges Iran to back down from nuclear escalation

Partial resumption of EU trade should be enough to stop Iran from "escalating" a Middle East nuclear dispute, Europe has said, after the US threatened to make Iranians "eat grass".

EU urges US not to start war with Iran

Europe's top diplomats have said US actions risked triggering a conflict with Iran, as America makes plans to pour troops into Middle East in echoes of Iraq war.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court defenestrates Catalan leader
  2. Report: EU helped Taiwan on name dispute
  3. Belarusian writer goes to Germany for treatment
  4. Rapid Covid-19 tests for developing world imminent
  5. Dutch advised against 'non-essential' travel to Belgium
  6. Covid-19 hit Roma community hard, report finds
  7. Merkel visited Navalny in Berlin hospital
  8. EU's new raw materials strategy 'threatens' climate action

Feature

The Hagia Sophia and the global battle of symbols

The Turkish president's decision to restart Islamic worship services in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia last Friday is not innocent. So how should we react? By doing the opposite - and make Cordoba's famous Mosque/Cathedral in Cordoba a museum.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. EU tries to avoid lockdowns as global death toll reaches 1m
  2. Reports: Turkey sent Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan
  3. German presidency tries to end EU's rule-of-law battle
  4. 'Sponsored returns' may shuffle failed asylum seekers around EU
  5. German wins election to be mayor of Romania's third city
  6. Minsk on the edge means whole Eastern Partnership is at risk
  7. Caucasus warfare prompts EU alarm
  8. Summit reloaded and last Brexit round This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us