January 24, 2019
In an unprecedented admission, the former Iranian ambassador to Germany has admitted that the Europeans have “evidence” of Iran’s involvement in “espionage and terrorism” that Tehran cannot easily deny.
Speaking to the state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) on Wednesday, January 23, Ali Majedi reiterated that regarding “Iran’s involvement in terrorism and espionage, the European countries have tabled evidence that cannot easily be dismissed.”
On Thursday, the Iranian foreign ministry quickly tried to distance itself from Majedi, emphasizing that he is now retired from service and he was expressing his “personal opinions”. In a statement, the ministry even tried to argue that Majedi meant anti-Islamic Republic groups were responsible for the plots.
“Currently, Iran is struggling with challenges other than the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) [Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers],” in its relations with Europe, ISNA asked Majedi, who responded, “As we see, today, Albania, Denmark and Netherland have deported Islamic Republic’s diplomats, claiming that they have been involved in espionage and terrorist activities. Some believe that by doing so, the European are seeking a way out of their commitment to keep JCPOA alive.”
Ali Majedi, Iranian ambassador to Berlin (June 2014-November 2018), was referring to a series of terrorism and espionage charges recently laid out by different European countries, including Albania, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherland, against the Islamic Republic.
Since President Donald Trump dropped JCPOA last May, the nuclear deal’s fate has been thrown into uncertainty.
To save the deal, EU has proposed a mechanism, labeled as a Special Purpose Vehicle or SPV, to keep Tehran loyal to the agreement.
The SPV is designed to act as a kind of clearinghouse that could be used to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods in an effective barter arrangement. However, no EU country has come forward as a potential host – delaying the plans.
Ali Majedi believes that, contrary to many interpretations, the SPV and JCPOA are not necessarily connected to each other.
Regardless of talks over SPV, relations between Iran and EU are deeply strained over the alleged espionage activities and targeting of anti-Islamic Republic dissidents in different European countries.
Iranian intelligence agents in 2018 were accused of participation in plots to bomb an opposition rally in France, and to assassinate a political opponent in Denmark.
However, both plots were foiled, and Tehran denied any involvement.
Majedi’s interview, reveals for the first time that the recent allegations against Iran cannot readily be dismissed by Tehran.
“Although the Europeans cannot ‘easily’ prove their charges against Iran, Tehran also cannot ‘easily’ dismiss them,” Majedi insists.
Referring to President Hassan Rouhani’s 2018 visit to Austria, Majedi noted, “During the visit, we witnessed some developments in Germany, while even before that, there were other cases. Europeans see a dichotomy in Iran’s policy.”
The former ambassador was referring to Rouhani’s visit to Austria last July when Just hours before welcoming its official guest, Vienna summoned Iran’s ambassador and announced that an unnamed Iranian diplomat’s status would be withdrawn.
The diplomat based at the Iranian embassy in Austria, but detained in Germany, was believed to have been in contact a couple at the center of an alleged bomb plot against Iranian opposition exiles in Paris.
For the first time, Majedi, as a prominent figure in the Islamic Republic, implicitly points to a “double layered” policy in Iran.
“While we are witnessing rogue elements operating inside Iran, could we deny their operations abroad; the operations that disrupt trust?” Majedi inquires, insisting, “International relations are not based on emotional matters, they are based on the reality, and a wrong move, however small, could eliminate the sense of security.”
It is also for the first time that an Iranian career diplomat talks about the existence of hard evidence against Iran’s illegal operations in Europe and attributing them to the Islamic Republic’s so-called “rogue elements”.
Europe has a long list of Tehran’s wrongdoings on its territory.
On January 9, authorities in Holland officially accused the Islamic Republic of plotting the contract murders of two men on Dutch soil in 2015 and 2017. Two Iranian diplomats were expelled from Holland.
An individual, Abdul-Majid, who was working as an interpreter and advisor for the German Army has recently been arrested and charged with spying for Iran.
Tehran has denied having any connection with the suspect.
Meanwhile, Albania has declared that it had expelled two Iranian diplomats for being involved in illegal activities, and threatening Albania’s security.
Earlier on January 8, Copenhagen accused Iran of plotting to assassinate members of a separatist group, Al Ahwaz Movement, based in Denmark.
The Danish Foreign Minister said on the same day that EU has agreed to impose sanctions on one of the Islamic Republic’s Intelligence apparatuses since Iran has been involved in planning terrorist operations in European territories.
“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,” Samuelsen twitted on Tuesday, January 8.
Islamic Republic’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, dismissed the allegation, describing it as a “cooked up” case by Mossad.
Nevertheless, the Netherlands also accused Iran of involvement in the murder of two dissidents on Dutch soil, adding that the EU was hitting Tehran with sanctions partly as a result of the killings.
The Dutch secret service “has strong indications that Iran was involved in the assassinations of two Dutch nationals of Iranian origin in Almere 2015 and in The Hague in 2017,” Foreign Minister Stef Blok said in a letter to parliament.
“These individuals were opponents of the Iranian regime,” he said in the letter, also signed by Dutch Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren.
In another part of his comments, Ali Majedi said on Wednesday, “Iran has always proved that, whenever it is obliged and has no other choice, it yields to negotiations. But, why should it be like that?”
Furthermore, Majedi has lamented that Iran has not even been successful in earning Europe’s trust, “Europeans work with us, but they do not trust us.”
Insisting that he is reluctant to “disclose problems”, Majedi regretfully says, “While we were building trust, few wrongdoings foiled our attempts. Those who believe that Iran’s interest would be guaranteed through a couple of arbitrary operations should explicitly be told that they are mistaken, and their moves are against building up the country’s power.”