France accuses Iran of being behind ‘bomb plot’ near Paris

France accuses Iran of being behind ‘bomb plot’ near Paris

France said on Tuesday there was no doubt Iran's intelligence ministry was behind a June plot to attack an exiled opposition group's rally outside Paris and it seized assets belonging to Tehran's intelligence services and two Iranian nationals. It was also attended by high-ranking US officials, including close allies of President Donald Trump.

"The foiled attack at Villepinte confirms the necessity of a demanding approach in our relations with Iran", Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in the statement.

After the arrests in June, Iran denied its involvement in the alleged plot.

"We deny the accusations and forcefully condemn the Iranian diplomat's arrest, and call for his immediate release", a statement from the Iranian foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

"In taking this decision, France underlines its determination to fight against terrorism in all its forms, particularly on its own territory", France's interior, foreign and economy ministers said in a rare joint statement. It said it had acted against the "instigators, authors, and accomplices" of the foiled attack.

The French government on Tuesday announced it was freezing assets belonging to two suspected Iranian intelligence operatives, as well as others belonging to Iran's ministry of intelligence and security.

"The French government, whom we have a long-standing and significant relationship with. must be vigilant and do not allow such devious moves to affect Iran's good relations with France and other European countries", Ghasemi said.

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One of the two Iranians identified in the announcement is Assadollah Asadi, a Vienna-based Iranian diplomat wanted in Belgium on suspicion he was part of the failed plot to bomb the MEK rally near Paris.

Assadi was arrested in July near the German city of Aschaffenburg on a European warrant after a couple with Iranian roots were stopped in Belgium and authorities reported finding powerful explosives in their vehicle. He was also described as a Belgian national of Iranian descent. A German court on Monday approved the diplomat's extradition to Belgium. According to Belgian media, police found 500 grams of TATP explosive and a detonator hidden in a toiletries bag.

Ghasemi echoed the same remarks on Tuesday, saying that "certain conspiracies" are in play meant to affect Iran's "positive relations with France and other European countries", rooted in the environment created by "the United States policies regarding Iran (focusing) on sowing division between Iran, Europe" and regional neighbours. 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 the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Tehran agree to curbs on its nuclear program in return for a lifting of economic sanctions.

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

The move came as about 200 police officers raided Centre Zahra, a Shiite Islamic center, and the homes of its leaders in the port-city of Dunkirk, France 24 reported.

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