Denmark has accused Iran of plotting to assassinate an Iranian Arab opposition leader on the European Union member’s territory and will push for fresh EU-wide sanctions against Iran, Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said on Tuesday.
Denmark also recalled its ambassador to Iran, as the Iranian foreign ministry denied any connection with the alleged plot.
Danish intelligence head Finn Borch Andersen had earlier on Tuesday told journalists that a man with a Norwegian passport and an Iranian background is being held after he was arrested on October 21 in neighboring Sweden.
He was apprehended under suspicion of helping to plot an attack on the leader of the Danish branch of ASMLA, the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Al-Ahvaz.
“It is totally unacceptable that Iran or any other foreign state plans assassinations on Danish soil. Further actions against Iran will be discussed in the EU,” Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said in a tweet.
Iran has previously objected to Denmark for the presence of members of ASMLA, which is seeking a separate state for ethnic Arabs in the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan.
Last year another Iranian-Arab separatist leader was gunned down in the Hague and Iran was suspected to be behind the assassination.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi called the Danish allegations "a continuation of enemies' plots to damage Iranian relations with Europe at this critical time," according to the Tasnim news agency.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Denmark in a tweet for uncovering the plot and said that for 40 years Iran has made Europe a target of terror attacks.
Khuzestan Province, home to around 80 percent of Iran's oil fields and 60 percent of the country's gas reserves, borders Iraq. Ethnic Arabs, which in total make up about 3 percent of Iran's population, have long complained of social, political, and economic discrimination.
Iranian officials, who often blame foreign enemies for unrest in the country, have claimed in the past that Persian Gulf countries are provoking ethnic strife in Khuzestan by attempting to exploit the legitimate demands and grievances of the people.
Last month an attack on a military parade in the province killed 25 people and wounded dozens of others when gunmen dressed in army uniforms opened fire at a military parade in Khuzestan’s capital, Ahvaz.
A separate Iranian Arab opposition group, the Ahwaz National Resistance, and the extremist group Islamic State both claimed responsibility for the parade attack.
Tehran summoned diplomats from Denmark, the Netherlands, and Britain for allegedly hosting members of groups suspected of links to government resistance.
In November 2017, an Iranian exile who established the ASMLA, was killed in the Netherlands, prompting Danish security officials to increase police protection of several ASMLA officials.