Iran slams EU sanctions, says 'Europe harboring terror'

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has lambasted the European Union (EU) for harboring notorious MKO terrorists, warning that “accusing” Iran and imposing sanctions against the Islamic Republic will not “absolve” Europe of responsibility for housing members of the terror outfit.

Iran’s top diplomat made the remarks on Tuesday, hours after the customs union froze the assets of an Iranian intelligence unit and two of its staff over terror charges. It was the first time the EU imposed sanctions on Iran since lifting an array of embargoes following Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

“Europeans, incl Denmark, Holland & France, harbor MEK—who killed 12000 Iranians & abetted Saddam's crimes against Iraqi Kurds—as well as other terrorists staging murder of innocent Iranians from Europe. Accusing Iran won't absolve Europe of responsibility for harboring terrorists,” Zarif said in a post on his official Twitter account.

The Iranian foreign minister referred to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO), a terrorist group which is detested for collaborating with the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during his war on Iran in the 1980s and killing thousands of Iranians in a violent campaign of assassinations and bombings, particularly in those years.

Earlier on Tuesday, Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said in a tweet that the “EU just agreed to enact sanctions against an Iranian Intelligence Service for its assassination plots on European soil.”

He further described the step taken by the union as a “strong signal from the EU that we will not accept such behavior in Europe.”

Also on Tuesday, the Netherlands government accused Tehran of hatching plots and involvement in two killings in 2015 and 2017, sending a letter, signed by the foreign and interior ministers,  to the Dutch parliament to warn of further economic embargos if Tehran did not cooperate with European probes.

The letter said representatives from Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium had met Iranian officials to convey “their serious concerns regarding Iran’s probable involvement in these hostile acts on EU territory,” Reuters reported.

“Iran was informed that involvement in such matters is entirely unacceptable and must be stopped immediately ... further sanctions cannot be ruled out,” the letter said.

The provocative move by the European bloc follows last year’s statements by Denmark and France that they suspected a so-called Iranian government intelligence unit pursued killing plots on their territories. Copenhagen at the time sought an EU-wide response.

Tehran has time and again strongly denied any involvement in the purported plots, saying the accusations were merely intended to damage EU-Iran relations. Iran also stresses that it is a victim of terrorism, particularly inflicted by the MKO outfit, whose members largely live freely in the EU countries.

he MKO was once listed as a terrorist organization in the US and Europe and is still widely viewed as a Marxist cult built around the personality of its leader, Maryam Rajavi.

Some of its uncouth practices include forcing the group's male members to divorce their wives and have them married to Rajavi's husband Massoud. 

The terrorist group is also known for its extremely suppressive control over members in its camps where access to the Internet and other information sources is prohibited.