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Denmark accuses Iran of being behind failed assassination plot on Danish soil

Police blocks a road Sept. 28 to the Oresund bridge near Copenhagen, as a massive manhunt mobilized hundreds of police and soldiers in Denmark, police said. Danish police said that the incident was an Iranian assassination attempt. (Nils Meilvang/AFP/Getty Images)

The government of Denmark announced Tuesday that it believed Iran was behind a plot to assassinate a member of Iran's opposition on Danish soil. Denmark has called on the European Union to impose new sanctions on Iran.

What plot?

In September, Danish police discovered a plot to kill the leader of the Danish branch of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, an organization that strives to create an ethnic Arab state in Iran. Many Arabs in Iran don't see themselves as part of the country, but view themselves as living in an occupied territory. Iran views the ASMLA as a terrorist organization.

When the plot was uncovered, Danish authorities initiated a massive manhunt, shutting down roads and bridges across the entire country.

On Oct. 21, an ethnically Iranian Norwegian citizen was arrested in Sweden in connection with this plot and was extradited to Denmark. This suspect has denied any involvement.

What happened now?

Danish intelligence chief Finn Borch Andersen said in a news conference, "We are dealing with an Iranian intelligence agency planning an attack on Danish soil. Obviously, we can’t and won’t accept that."

In a tweet Tuesday, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said that it was “totally unacceptable that Iran or any other foreign state plans assassinations on Danish soil.” He also promised that “[f]urther actions against Iran will be discussed in the EU.”

The same day, Rasmussen also posted a picture of himself and British Prime Minister Theresa May. The caption promised “[i]n close collaboration with UK and other countries we will stand up to Iran.”

What has Iran said?

Iran has denied any involvement. Bahram Qasemi, a spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, called the accusations “a continuation of enemies’ plots to damage Iranian relations with Europe at this critical time.” The Iranian government also referred to the allegations as “hostile.”

What else?

After President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, the European Union continued to honor it. Denmark was key in encouraging other EU members to remain in the deal. Just last year, the Danish Export Credit Agency made a deal with eight Iranian banks, giving them lines of credit or guarantees. It promised to fight any U.S. sanctions that could interfere with those deals.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the Danish government in a tweet of his own for “its arrest of an Iranian regime assassin.” Pompeo called on other allies “to confront the full range of Iran's threats to peace and security.”

One last thing…
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