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EU hits Iran with sanctions after murder plots

THE HAGUE: The EU hit Iran’s intelligence services with sanctions on Tuesday after accusing Tehran of being behind plots to assassinate regime opponents on Dutch, Danish, and French soil.

The move by the 28-nation bloc was anno­unced as the Dutch government said it believed Iran was behind the murders of two dissidents in 2015 and 2017.

“Very encouraging that [the] 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,” Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasm­ussen said.

Sanctions include the freezing of funds and other financial assets of the Iranian intelligence ministry and individuals, officials said.

Denmark led efforts for sanctions after allegations that Tehran tried to kill three Iranian dissidents on Danish soil.

A manhunt related to the alleged plot against three Iranians suspected of belonging to the Arab Struggle Mov­ement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA) led to the shutdown of bridges to Sweden and ferries on Sept 28.

France last year imposed sanctions on two suspected Iranian agents and others from Iran’s ministry of intelligence and security. The French security services concluded that the head of operations at the Iranian intelligence ministry had ordered a plot to bomb a rally of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) opposition group in a suburb of Paris in June last year — which Tehran strongly denied.

“When the sanctions were announced, the Netherlands, together with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Denmark and Belgium met Iranian authorities,” Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said.

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

Dutch police have previously named the two victims as Ali Motamed, 56, who was killed in the central city of Almere in December 2015, and Ahmad Molla Nissi, 52, murdered in The Hague in November 2017.

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