December 10, 2018

U.S. warns Iran after France alleges bomb plot

03 October 2018, 08:28 | Darnell Patrick

French President Emmanuel Macron meets Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the UN General Assembly. AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron meets Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the UN General Assembly. AFP

France said Tuesday it was freezing assets of two suspected Iranian intelligence operatives over an alleged plot to bomb a rally in Paris three months ago.

The rally in the Paris suburb of Villepinte was attended by several allies of US President Donald Trump, including former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, both of whom urged regime change in Iran.

Iran has denied any role in the foiled attack and accuses the People's Mujahedeen of Iran of coordinating the plot to discredit Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The denial came after a diplomatic source told AFP that French security services believe the Iranian intelligence ministry was behind a foiled bomb plot that aimed to target an opposition group in Paris in June.

It went on: "Without prejudicing the results of a criminal proceedings taking against the initiators, the perpetrators and the accomplices of this planned attack, France has taken targeted and proportionate preventative measures in the form of adopting national measures to freeze the assets of Mr Assadollah Assadi and Mr Saeid Hashemi Moghadam, Iranian nationals, as well as the Internal Security Directorate of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence", the official statement read.

France has sought to maintain the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, but has said it wants to rein in the country's meddling in the region.

A French diplomatic source quoted by Reuters said that "without any doubt", they were behind the plot.

Iran has dismissed France's allegations about the involvement of an Iranian diplomat in an alleged bomb attack on a meeting of the notorious anti-Iran terrorist group, the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), near Paris, calling on French officials to pursue a realistic approach to Tehran.

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Belgium announced in July that it had arrested a couple in a Brussels suburb who were suspected of preparing to drive a vehicle packed with explosives to the French rally.

A Belgian-Iranian husband and wife were arrested in a Brussels suburb and charged with plotting to bomb the rally.

Asadi is set to be extradited to Belgium to face trial, German authorities announced on Monday.

It unraveled after an Iranian diplomat accredited in Austria was arrested in Germany and two other individuals in possession of explosives were detained in Belgium.

"We deny the accusations and forcefully condemn the Iranian diplomat's arrest and call for his immediate release", the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement. A unit within the Iranian intelligence services was also targeted. France has postponed sending a new ambassador to the Iranian capital and has advised diplomats and other officials to postpone visits to Iran.

France has been one of the strongest advocates of salvaging a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which US President Donald Trump pulled out of in May.

Tehran considers the MEK as a terrorist organisation - a view that until recently was shared by the U.S. and the EU.

Several people were arrested after police raided the headquarters of the Zahra Centre France and the homes of its leaders on Tuesday.

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