The EU has imposed new sanctions on Tehran for allegedly planned terrorist attacks on exiled Iranians in France and Denmark. According to the Dutch government, the punitive measures are directed against two Iranian citizens as well as the country's intelligence service.
The sanctions are scheduled to come into effect this Wednesday and are part of the revised EU terror list adopted by European Union Ministers of EU Member States. The news agency dpa reports, citing EU diplomatic circles. The list provides for the freezing of assets and entry bans.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohamed Jawad Sarif criticized the decision on Twitter. Previously, he had already denied the involvement of Iran in two attacks. Sarif told the EU to give refuge to Iranian terrorists. He referred to two Iranian opposition groups, the People's Mojahedin and Al-Ahwasieh. The leadership in Tehran blames them for attacks and classifies them - unlike the EU - as terrorist organizations.
In July 2018, two suspects were arrested in Belgium for allegedly planned terrorist attacks on a gathering of 25,000 exiled Iranians in France. At the end of September, according to the Danish domestic intelligence service PET, an attack on a group of Iranians living in Denmark was thwarted and engaged in the independence of the Iranian region around the city of Ahwas. In both cases, investigators blamed the Iranian intelligence service. Tehran denied this.
Further sanctions are not excluded
The Dutch government said on Tuesday afternoon that Iran was also responsible for two murders of regime opponents in the country. These acts were also the reason for the new EU sanctions, said Foreign Minister Stef Blok. "The imposition of sanctions across the European Union is an unprecedented hard signal, and that is very clearly understood in Iran." Blok did not exclude further sanctions.
In 2015 and 2017, two regime-critical Iranians, who had Dutch passports, were murdered in Almere near Amsterdam and in The Hague. The Dutch secret service AIVD has "strong indications" that the government in Tehran is behind it, said Blok. Already in June 2018, the Netherlands expelled two Iranian diplomats - at that time no reason had been given.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen called the new sanctions on Twitter "very encouraging". "The EU stands together - such actions are unacceptable and must have consequences," he wrote, referring to the alleged plot plans.
Very encouraging that EU has just agreed on new targeted sanctions against Iran in response to hostile activities and plots being planned and perpetrated in Europe, including Denmark. EU stands united - such actions are unacceptable and must have consequences. #dkpol #eudk- Lars Løkke Rasmussen (@larsloekke) January 8, 2019
France also welcomed the punitive measures. They reflected "the solidarity of the Member States of the European Union and their determination to act in concert so as not to leave unanswered hostile and unacceptable action on European soil," the Foreign Ministry said.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran called the EU's decision "a positive and necessary step, but not enough to fight the Tehran regime's state terrorism". Two "main organs of Iranian terrorism" are the Ministry of Intelligence MOIS and the Revolutionary Guards, the resistance council said.
Relations between the EU and Tehran are fragile following the US exit from the nuclear deal with Iran last year. In 2015, the United Nations veto powers, Germany and Iran had agreed to a controlled reduction of Iran's uranium resources and, in turn, a relaxation of Western sanctions. The US, however, withdrew from the agreement last year and is now expected to continue to campaign for sanctions against Tehran; the EU, on the other hand, is trying to save the agreement. It should prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.