Uncertainty is clouding Iran-EU ties after Danish officials leveled accusations that an Iranian intelligence organization was behind an attempted assassination in Denmark. Iran's diplomatic apparatus has been busy reacting to statements from the Danish Security and Intelligence Service and the country's Foreign Ministry.
"With those suspicious allegations some are seeking to undermine relations between Iran and Europe," said Mahmoud Vaezi, the influential chief of staff for Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. Vaezi underlined the timing of the claims that came "on the eve of new US sanctions against Iran." He also told reporters following a Nov. 1 cabinet meeting in Tehran that Rouhani had ordered the authorities to get to the bottom of the matter.
Ahead of the sanctions targeting Iran's oil and banking sectors taking effect Nov. 4, Iran has been intensively negotiating with Europeans for a new mechanism to mitigate the impacts of the measures, which have already spread panic over soaring prices among ordinary Iranians.
In a tit-for-tat move, Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the Danish ambassador to convey Tehran's "strongest protest against hasty reactions by some Danish officials." The ministry's spokesman Bahram Qassemi vehemently denied the Danish allegations as "in line with conspiracies by the known enemies of the good and expanding ties between Iran and Europe" at a juncture he described as "special and critical." Qassemi also warned Denmark of consequences for the accusation and demanded "calculated and rational management of the developments."
The Danish envoy has already been recalled by his superiors in Copenhagen, a departure Qassemi said was for "consultation" in which he would "try to follow up on the expectations of the Iranian side."
The timing of the accusation was a common element in many Iranian reactions, including that of the country's ambassador to the United Kingdom. "Allegations of sudden Iranian involvement … are peculiarly timed," tweeted Hamid Baeidinejad. Highlighting "growing Iran-EU engagement," the senior diplomat advised Europe to be "vigilant" against what he suggested was sabotage by the United States and its regional allies.
The hard-line newspaper Kayhan — believed to be largely echoing the views of Iran's supreme leader — restated its cynical view of Europeans, saying Denmark had entered "the game France and Germany started." Kayhan was referencing recent accusations by those two states that implicated Iranian diplomats in a perceived terror plot in Paris.
"What makes the claim interesting is the timing," reported Jam News about the "show [through which] the United States is trying to tarnish Iran's image in the eyes of the international community and to encourage other countries into …supporting sanctions."
According to the Danish Security and Intelligence Service, the target of the assassination attempt was the leader of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz who is based in the Danish city of Ringsted. The group is branded a terrorist organization by the Iranian government. It claimed responsibility for a Sept. 22 terrorist attack that hit a military parade in the southwestern city of Ahvaz and killed 29 Iranians, among them a child.
Israeli media outlets reported Oct. 31 that the country’s spy agency, the Mossad, had helped foil the plot.
Danish authorities are now planning to push for EU sanctions on Iran over the case. A collective European response at the behest of Denmark is certainly not what Iran wants at a time when it badly needs European ties to shield against the upcoming sanctions, which will be brutal on an already battered economy.
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