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Iran’s FM claims Israeli intelligence sabotaging nuclear deal

Zarif posts chronology purporting to link timing of Mossad tip-offs in Europe to Tehran’s efforts to salvage 2015 accord

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a joint press conference on October 30, 2018 in Istanbul. (OZAN KOSE / AFP)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a joint press conference on October 30, 2018 in Istanbul. (OZAN KOSE / AFP)

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Thursday accused Israel and its Mossad intelligence agency of sabotaging the nuclear deal Tehran reached with world powers in 2015.

In a tweet, Zarif posted a list of recent Iranian efforts to salvage the deal with European signatories in the wake of the US exit, and linked them to statements about Tehran’s nuclear program made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and recent reports detailing Mossad’s role in thwarting alleged Iranian plots in Europe.

In his post Zarif noted news of Mossad’s “Iran nuke file discover” in April (the reveal of a daring operation in Tehran where Israeli agents seized a trove of documents on Iran’s covert nuclear weapons program) was closely followed by the US announcement it was quitting the accord.

He further noted that claims Mossad had foiled an “Iranian bomb plot” in France were made on the same day Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited two European nations in June.

In the most recent example, Zarif noted that Israeli intelligence last week was credited with “foiling [an] Iranian assassination plot” in Denmark on the same day the European Union was set to announce a mechanism for Tehran to skirt renewed US sanctions.

“Incredible series of coincidences. Or, a simple chronology of a Mossad program to kill the JCPOA?” he posted, without offering further explanations.

On Tuesday, Danish Security and Intelligence Service said it uncovered an Iranian plot to assassinate three Iranian opposition members living in the Scandinavian country. A day later, Israeli officials said the Mossad tipped of their Danish counterparts about the plot, which led to the arrest of Norwegian national of Iranian origin suspected of spying on behalf of the Iranian government.

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen slammed plot as “totally unacceptable” and said Copenhagen recalled its ambassador to Tehran over the incident.

Iran immediately rejected the accusation, with Zarif claiming the allegations were part of an Israeli-led “false flag” operation to undermine the Islamic Republic’s global standing.

The Danish revelations of the Tehran plot followed the unveiling of another suspected Iranian plot to target a Paris rally by an opposition group in June. According to Israeli reports, the Mossad helped thwart that attack as well, which led to the arrest of several Iranians in Europe, including a diplomat.

US President Donald Trump has cited Iran’s support for terror around the globe as a reason behind his decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions, most of which kick back into effect next week.

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, left, and Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif, center, take part in a Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ministerial meeting on the Iran nuclear deal on July 6, 2018 in Vienna, Austria. (AFP/APA/Hans Punz)

European Union has played a key role in working to preserve the agreement after the US exit, and has announced it plans to buy Iranian oil despite the return of US sanctions next week.

Last month at the United Nations, the EU announced plans for a “special purpose vehicle” — a payment system to continue trade and business ties with Iran for the remaining five signatories to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia.

But senior officials in Brussels admit that it is proving difficult to set up, and would not be operational by the time US sanctions go into effect on November 5.

According to one EU official, not all member states are on board in light of the recent plots by the Iranian government to attack its political opponents on European soil. He said the bloc wants to avoid a “direct confrontation” with Trump’s administration over Iran before the November 6 congressional poll.

Another official said that while the plan was “not dead,” he admitted the whole enterprise is “politically risky” for EU members wary of antagonizing Washington.

AFP contributed to this report.

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