EU agrees fresh sanctions on Iran over alleged assassination plots

Europe
Stef Blok talks to journalists in the parliament in The Hague on 8 JanuaryImage copyright EPA
Image caption The Dutch minister of foreign affairs has accused Iran of involvement in two assassinations

The European Union has announced fresh sanctions on a unit of the Iranian intelligence agency and two individuals over alleged assassination plots.

The EU accuses them of attempting, or carrying out, attacks within several European countries.

The move puts the individuals and intelligence unit on the EU terrorist list – freezing their financial assets.

Tehran denies the claims and says the accusations are intended to damage relations between Iran and the EU.

What are the accusations?

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said on Tuesday that his country’s secret service had “strong indications” that Iran was involved in the assassination of Dutch nationals in Almere in 2015 and in The Hague in 2017.

In a statement, he said the two murdered men were of Iranian origin and had been opponents of the Iranian regime.

The Netherlands previously expelled two Iranian embassy workers in connection with the deaths.

In October, France publicly accused Iranian intelligence of being behind a plan to bomb a rally of opposition groups in Paris.

A meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) was held in Paris in June, and was attended by senior former US politicians.

France, Belgium, Austria, Luxembourg and Germany were all involved in helping to foil the alleged plot – as arrests were made across European borders.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption A Danish investigation caused hours of travel chaos in September last year

Denmark has also accused Tehran of trying to kill dissidents on its soil.

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen welcomed the latest move – describing the new EU sanctions as a “huge victory” and a “very clear signal” that such attacks are “completely unacceptable”.

One of the individuals being added to the terror list is Saeid Hashemi Moghadam – the head of the Directorate for Internal Security in Iran’s Intelligence ministry – whose assets had already been targeted by France.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen welcomed the new sanctions in a Twitter post.

“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,” he said.

In recent months Albania has also expelled senior Iranian diplomats, reportedly due to links with foiled terror plots.

The sanctions come as the EU simultaneously tries to save its landmark nuclear deal with Iran, which the US withdrew from last year.

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