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article imageDenmark recalls ambassador to Iran over foiled 'attack'

By Camille BAS-WOHLERT (AFP)     Oct 30, 2018 in World

Denmark on Tuesday recalled its ambassador to Iran after it accused Tehran of plotting a foiled "attack" against three Iranians living in the Scandinavian country.

"I have decided to recall Denmark's ambassador in Tehran for consultations... Denmark can in no way accept that people with ties to Iran's intelligence service plot attacks against people in Denmark," Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen told reporters.

"It is the Iranian government, it is the Iranian state that is behind" the plot, Samuelsen said.

He added that he was consulting with "partners and allies", including the EU, about possible sanctions.

Earlier Tuesday, the head of Denmark's intelligence service PET, Finn Borch Andersen, said his agency believed the Iranian intelligence service "was planning an attack in Denmark" against three Iranians suspected of belonging to the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz.

A Norwegian of Iranian origin was arrested on October 21 for allegedly planning the attack and spying for Iran.

The suspect was detained in the southwestern Swedish city of Goteborg, according to the Swedish security service Sapo.

Iran has denied the Danish allegations, with foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi saying they were part of a European conspiracy against Iran.

In late September, Tehran accused Denmark, the Netherlands and Britain of "hosting several members of the terrorist group" that Iran holds responsible for an attack in the mainly ethnic Arab city of Ahvaz in southwestern Iran.

The September 22 attack, during which five commandos opened fire on a military parade, left 24 people dead.

The so-called Islamic State group and a separatist Arab group claimed responsibility, and Iran staged several operations in Iraq and Syria in response.

- 'Will stand up to Iran' -

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen echoed Samuelsen's comments, writing on Twitter: "It is totally unacceptable that Iran or any other foreign state plans assassinations on Danish soil. Further actions against Iran will be discussed in the EU."

In Oslo, where he was meeting other Northern European leaders, Rasmussen spoke with British counterpart Theresa May, whom he said expressed "support" for Denmark.

"In close collaboration with UK and other countries we will stand up to Iran," he added.

Iran's ambassador to Denmark was summoned to the foreign ministry Tuesday for an explanation.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US also stood behind Denmark.

"We congratulate the government of Denmark on its arrest of an Iranian regime assassin. For nearly 40 years, Europe has been the target of Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks. We call on our allies and partners to confront the full range of Iran's threats to peace and security," Pompeo wrote on Twitter.

The US and European countries nonetheless have different approaches to engagement with Iran.

Danish shipping group Maersk Tankers said in May that it would cease activities in Iran due to a US ...
Danish shipping group Maersk Tankers said in May that it would cease activities in Iran due to a US decision to reimpose sanctions against Tehran
Axel SCHUETT, Ritzau Scanpix/AFP

In May, the US pulled out of a 2015 international accord on Iran's nuclear programme and in August it reimposed sanctions against Tehran.

A second wave of sanctions is to take effect on November 5.

EU countries, China and Russia want to preserve the 2015 agreement and maintain trade ties with Iran however.

PET's announcement ended weeks of speculation about why Denmark shut down bridges and ferries to Sweden on September 28 during a manhunt that mobilised hundreds of police and the military.

The shutdown was aimed at foiling the Iranian operation, PET acknowledged on Tuesday.

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