Iranians shout slogans during a protest in Tehran, Iran, against President Donald Trump, May 11, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/TASNIM NEWS AGENCY)
Israel issued rare praise for the European Union on Wednesday for its decision a day earlier to sanction Iran for attempted assassinations in France and Denmark.
“This is an important first step by the #EU, combating Iranian aggression,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a tweet.
“The newly imposed sanctions offer some hope that a growing number of countries are willing to take an active, clear stand against #Iran’s global campaign of #terrorism.”
The European Union on Tuesday froze the assets of an Iranian intelligence unit and two of its staff, as the Netherlands accused Iran of two killings on its soil in 2015 and 2017, and joined France and Denmark in alleging Tehran plotted other attacks in Europe.
The move, although in part symbolic since one of the men is in prison in Belgium, marks the first time the EU has enacted sanctions on Iran since lifting a host of curbs on it three years ago following its 2015 nuclear pact with world powers.
The decision, which includes designating the unit and the two Iranians as terrorists, follows last year’s disclosure by Denmark and France that they suspected an Iranian government intelligence service of pursuing assassination plots on their soil. Copenhagen sought an EU-wide response.
The planned attacks in France in June and Denmark in October were reportedly thwarted thanks to intelligence provided by the Mossad.
“EU just agreed to enact sanctions against an Iranian Intelligence Service for its assassination plots on European soil. Strong signal from the EU that we will not accept such behavior in Europe,” Denmark’s Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said on Twitter.
On Tuesday, the Dutch government publicly accused Iran of two killings in 2015 and 2017, sending a letter to parliament to warn of further economic sanctions if Tehran did not cooperate with European investigations.
Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok tweeted that the “The EU and the Netherlands take strong action against Iranian unlawful interference in Europe. Targeted sanctions and a clear message underline that this behavior is unacceptable and needs to stop immediately.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, currently on a tour to a number of states in the Middle East, also praised the EU move.
“#Iran and Hezbollah have terrorized Europe since 1979. By taking action today, European nations sent Iran a clear message that terrorism will not be tolerated. The US strongly supports the new sanctions and stands with our European allies as we counter this common threat,” he wrote in a tweet.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif posted a tweet in response to the sanctions saying that “Europeans, incl Denmark, Holland & France, harbor MEK—who killed 12000 Iranians & abetted Saddam’s crimes against Iraqi Kurds—as well as other terrorists staging murder of innocent Iranians from Europe,” he said, referring to the exiled Iranian opposition group Mujaheedin-e Khalq.
“Accusing Iran won’t absolve Europe of responsibility for harboring terrorists,” he wrote.
Jerusalem has been sharply critical of the EU in the past for not following US President Donald Trump’s lead and walking away from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, and for looking for ways to bypass new US sanctions against Iran.
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