European Union hits Iran with sanctions after murder plots

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif in 2016

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif in 2016

The "EU stands united - such actions are unacceptable and must have consequences", he tweeted.

Iran denied such accusations as "baseless" and blamed Israel for attempting to "torpedo relations between Iran and the European Union", according to foreign minister Javad Zarif.

The move places both individuals and the intelligence unit onto the EU's terror list, accusing them of carrying out attacks as part of plots against Iranian opposition figures in Denmark and France.

The AVID investigation, which was previously classified, prompted the Netherlands to remove two members of the Iranian embassy staff a year ago after Denmark blamed Tehran for plotting to attack three Iranians alleged to be members of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA).

Dick Schoof, the director general of the Dutch security service, the AIVD, said it was involved in "intense" efforts with other countries to research the extent of Iranian "interference" in Europe.

In a written statement to the Dutch parliament, Stef Blok, the country's foreign minister, said intelligence services had found "strong indications that Iran was involved in the assassinations of two Dutch nationals of Iranian origin".

In October of previous year, French authorities foiled plans to bomb a People's Mujahedeen Organization (MEK) rally outside of Paris - blaming the top echelon of Tehran officials.

The meeting conveyed "serious concerns regarding Iran's probable involvement in these hostile acts on European Union territory", Blok said in a letter to the parliament in The Hague, also signed by Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren.

"Iran is expected to cooperate fully in removing the present concerns and, where necessary, aiding in criminal investigations", the letter said.

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In late October, Danish security forces said they had arrested a man who was allegedly plotting to assassinate the leader of the Danish branch of an Iranian Arab separatist movement.

"We have always been 99 per cent sure it was the Iranian regime but the Dutch government never revealed any information", she told The Telegraph.

The European Commission, while backing Denmark's accusation and condemning Tehran, has urged member states to not let it impact the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal of 2015.

"If such cooperation is not forthcoming, further sanctions can not be ruled out", it added.

But this isn't the first time in recent years that Iran has been accused of succeeding - or endeavoring - to kill key opponents in Europe. It said that the accusations were meant to damage EU-Iran relations.

Tehran has blamed ASMLA for the September 28, 2018 attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, which left 30 people dead and 70 injured.

The MEK, which has a history of attacks inside the Islamic republic, was considered a terrorist group until 2009 by European authorities and until 2012 by the United States, where members of President Donald Trump's administration have had close ties with the movement.

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

Tehran at the time protested the expulsion as an "unfriendly and destructive move" and threatened to retaliate.

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