Accusing Tehran Cannot Conceal European Support for Terrorists

Accusing Tehran Cannot Conceal European Support for Terrorists
Accusing Tehran Cannot Conceal European Support for Terrorists

Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that the EU cannot cover up its support for terrorists that work against the Islamic Republic by imposing sanctions on Tehran over alleged planned attacks in Europe.   
The European Union on Tuesday froze the assets of an Iranian intelligence unit and two of its staff, as the Netherlands accused Iran of two killings on its soil and joined France and Denmark in alleging Tehran plotted other attacks in Europe.
Zarif said in a tweet that “accusing Iran won’t absolve Europe of responsibility for harboring terrorists”, IRNA reported.
“Europeans, including Denmark, Holland and France, harbor MKO … as well as other terrorists staging murder of innocent Iranians from Europe,” he added, referring to the anti-Iran terror group Mojahedin-e Khalq.
Iran has denied any involvement in the alleged plots, saying the accusations are intended to damage EU-Iran relations.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi also denounced the EU decision as “irrational” and “surprising”, noting that the move exposes the European countries’ “insincerity” in combating terrorism.  
Qasemi stressed that Iran will take “reciprocal action” in response to the unconstructive measure. 
The EU’s move marked the first time the bloc has enacted sanctions on Iran since lifting a host of curbs on it three years ago following its 2015 nuclear pact with world powers.
The decision, which includes designating the unit and the two Iranians as terrorists, follows last year’s disclosure by Denmark and France that they suspected an Iranian government intelligence service of pursuing assassination plots on their soil. Copenhagen sought an EU-wide response.
“EU just agreed to enact sanctions against an Iranian intelligence service for its [alleged] assassination plots on European soil. Strong signal from the EU that we will not accept such behavior in Europe,” Denmark’s Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said on Twitter, Reuters reported.
France, which has already hit the two men and the ministry unit with sanctions, has claimed there was no doubt the Iranian Intelligence Ministry was behind a failed attack near Paris.
On Tuesday, the Dutch government publicly accused Iran of the plots, as well as two killings in 2015 and 2017, sending a letter to parliament to warn of further economic sanctions if Tehran did not cooperate with European investigations.
The letter signed by the Dutch foreign and interior ministers said Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium met Iranian officials to convey “their serious concerns regarding Iran’s probable involvement in these hostile acts on EU territory”.
“Iran was informed that involvement in such matters is entirely unacceptable and must be stopped immediately ... Further sanctions cannot be ruled out,” the letter said.
Paris accused Iran of a plot to carry out a bomb attack at a rally near Paris organized by MKO. Denmark claims it foiled an Iranian intelligence plan to assassinate an Iranian Arab dissident figure on its soil.
On Tuesday, the Netherlands said it had “strong indications” that Iran was behind the assassinations of two Dutch nationals of Iranian origin, in 2015 and in 2017. Iran denies any involvement in the killings.



Sensitive Issue 

The decision to impose the curbs was taken without debate at an unrelated meeting of Europe ministers in Brussels and the asset freeze was to come into effect on Wednesday, EU officials said.
The Danish Foreign Ministry identified the two employees as a deputy intelligence minister and a Vienna-based diplomat. 
The deputy minister is in Iran, while the Iranian diplomat was charged and is being held by Belgian authorities. Neither appear to have assets in France, which first imposed the asset freeze late last year.
But imposing economic sanctions on Iran, once the EU’s top oil supplier, remains highly sensitive for the bloc.
The EU has been straining to uphold the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers, which US President Donald Trump pulled out of in May. It has been less willing to consider sanctions, instead seeking talks with Tehran.
Iran has warned it could ditch the nuclear deal, if EU powers do not protect its trade and financial benefits.

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