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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Denmark to push for EU sanctions over Iran assassination plot

Danes revealed details of alleged attempt to target separatist leaders one month after major security operation

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen has called for fresh EU sanctions on Iran over an alleged assassination plot. AFP
Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen has called for fresh EU sanctions on Iran over an alleged assassination plot. AFP

Denmark will push for new EU-wide sanctions against Iran following an alleged regime-orchestrated plot to assassinate a separatist leader on Danish soil.

Denmark’s foreign minister Anders Samuelsen described the alleged plot against three Iranian leaders from the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, Al Ahvaziya, as “totally unacceptable” and has recalled the country’s ambassador to Tehran for further discussions.

“In light of the latest development, Denmark will now push for a discussion in the EU on the need for further sanctions against Iran,” Mr Samuelsen said.

The call for new and concerted action comes at a sensitive time as EU leaders are seeking to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran that was dumped by President Donald Trump as he prepares to reimpose sanctions next week.

Danish intelligence services revealed for the first time on Tuesday details of the alleged Iranian operation, which has been regarded as retaliation for a bomb attack on a military parade that killed 25 people in the Iranian city of Ahvaz last month. Iran blames the separatist group for the bomb.

The group seeks a separate state for ethnic Arabs in Iran’s south-west province of Khuzestan but is considered a terrorist group by Tehran. It has denied involvement in the military parade attack.

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Denmark thwarts Iranian assassination plot

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Police shut down the Danish capital Copenhagen in late September to thwart the plot by Iranian intelligence that was focused on a plan to kill the Danish leader of the separatist group, according to Danish officials. The

A Norwegian national of Iranian descent, was arrested on October 21 in neighbouring Sweden and has been extradited to Denmark.

“We congratulate the government of Denmark on its arrest of an Iranian regime assassin," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet. "We call on our allies and partners to confront the full range of Iran's threats to peace and security."

Finn Borch Andersen, head of the Danish intelligence agency Pet, said the arrested Norwegian citizen had denied charges in court of helping a foreign intelligence service plot an assassination in Denmark.

The suspect had been seen taking photographs of an area populated by members of Al Ahvaziya in Ringsted, about 65 kilometres south of Copenhagen.

The announcement came after French authorities blamed Iran’s intelligence services for a plot to bomb a rally of Iranian opposition groups in Paris in June. Two Belgians of Iranian descent were arrested carrying explosives in their car. German police also arrested an Iranian diplomat, based in Austria. He has been extradited to stand trial in Belgium.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi dismissed the accusations made by Denmark. "This is a continuation of enemies' plots to damage Iranian relations with Europe at this critical time," Tasnim news agency quoted him as saying.