A week after a Belgian court convicted an Iranian diplomat to 20 years in jail for plotting to bomb an opposition rally in Paris, Tehran has summoned the Belgian ambassador in protest at what it called an “illegal ruling”. State media also attacked French President Emmanuel Macron over remarks he made on the nuclear deal.

Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Belgian ambassador on Tuesday to protest what Tehran called the “illegal ruling of the Antwerp court for Iranian diplomat Assadollah Asadi”.

Last week, Asadi, and three others, were convicted to prison terms of up to twenty years for plotting to bomb the yearly gathering of the exiled National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), an opposition group that has its headquarters in Paris. The attack was foiled by Belgian police.

The 30 June 2018 gathering in Villepinte, near Paris, included senior leaders of the NCRI and some high-profile supporters including former US president Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

The NCRI is the political arm of the Mujaheddin-e-Kalq (MEK), which was exiled by Iran and found refuge in Iraq. It fought alongside Saddam Hussein’s troops against Iran during the 1979 – 1988 war and was put on EU and US terrorist lists, until it was removed in 2009 and 2012 respectively.

Asadi, now 49, was attached to the Iranian mission in Austria when he supplied explosives for the planned attack.

“The ruling of the Antwerp Court violates international law and ignores Belgium’s obligations to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” according to the official Mehr News Agency, which added that “Iran does not recognise it in any way”, saying the ruling is “contrary to the provisions of the 1961 Vienna Convention” on diplomatic relations and “lacks legitimacy”.

The paper goes on attacking France, and the West in general, for supporting “the anti-Iran terrorist group” – the NCRI has a heavily guarded compound in the French town of Auvers-sur-Oise, while some of their members are in a camp in Albania after being expelled from Iraq.

“The Iranian government believes that the plot against Asadi was initially designed by the Israeli Mossad,” Mehr continues. But the Israel-based intelligence website Debka File leaves less room for speculation.

In the article Europe as Battleground for CIA/Mossad War on Covert Iranian Plots, written half a year after Asadi’s thwarted bomb plot, Debka File says that, acting on a Mossad tip, two of Asadi’s accomplices “were arrested by Belgian police on their way to the rally and a half kilo of the powerful TATP explosive found in their bags”.

“This was the lead that unravelled the Iranian plot to blow up the MEK rally.”

Disastrous timing

The timing of the trial and its aftermath could not be more inconvenient. After the change of guard in Washington, hopes are high that Joe Biden will return the US to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal, that would result in lifting anti-Iran sanctions against Tehran scaling down its nuclear program.

The deal was signed in July 2015 between Iran and the “P5+1”, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (US, UK, France, Russia and China) plus Germany. On 8 May 2018, then US President Donald Trump unilaterally walked away from the deal, re-imposing sanctions.

On 4 February – the very date that the trial against Asadi was held in Antwerp – French President Emmanuel Macron offered, during a presentation at the US Think Tank Atlantic Council, that France could be a “committed broker” between the US and Iran in trying to get the talks back on track.

But this week, Iran fired back that it was not interested, and that Macron “must get rid of pressure of Hebrew-Arabic lobby”, according to Mehr News Agency, which said Iran is “basically willing to negotiate with the United States only within the framework of JCPOA and…that the US must lift sanctions imposed against the country”.

The jab at Macron was also aimed at an earlier remark by the French president in an interview with Al Arabiya Television, where he suggested that Saudi Arabia should be involved in the nuclear talks with Iran, something Tehran rejected saying that “the JCPOA is a multilateral international agreement” that is “is non-negotiable and its parties are clear and unchangeable”.

Source » rfi