This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has summoned the Danish ambassador to Tehran to issue a “strong protest” over Copenhagen’s allegations about an Iranian plot to kill an opposition activist on the Scandinavian country’s territory.
Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said the ambassador was warned against “hasty and controversial actions” during the October 31 meeting, which comes the day after the Danish security service PET fingered Iran for planning to assassinate an Iranian Arab opposition leader.
Shortly after being summoned by the Iranians, Ambassador Danny Annan was recalled by Copenhagen and left the country, Danish officials said.
Meanwhile, Denmark said it plans to “reach out” to its EU allies in hopes of developing a united response to Iran.
“There is a need to show Iran that we are well aware of what took place and that we don’t accept it,” Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said on October 31.
Danish intelligence officials said on October 30 that a man with a Norwegian passport and Iranian background was being held after he was arrested in neighboring Sweden.
They said the individual was apprehended on October 21 under suspicion of helping to plot an attack on the leader of the Danish branch of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of al-Ahvaz (ASMLA), which is seeking a separate state for ethnic Arabs in the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan.
The suspect has denied the allegation, while Iranian officials say it is part of an effort to damage Tehran’s relations with the EU.
Tehran claims that ASMLA was responsible for the September 22 attack on a military parade in Khuzestan’s capital, Ahvaz, in which at least 25 people were killed.
The group denied it was involved and condemned the attack.
A spokeswoman for the European Commission said that EU countries “stand in solidarity” with Denmark.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a Twitter post “congratulated” Denmark on arresting what he called “an Iranian regime assassin.”
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.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 30, 2018
The dispute comes at a delicate time in Western relations with Tehran. Several European countries, China, and Russia are in talks to salvage parts of a 2015 agreement with world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of global economic sanctions.
The United States pulled out of the accord in May and began reinstating sanctions, a move that has hit the Iranian economy hard.
Tehran has sought protection from European countries to help offset the damage done by the U.S. moves.