Iran behind two assassinations in Netherlands - minister

Ahmad Mola Nissi 52 was killed in the Hague

Sanctions include the freezing of funds and other financial assets of the Iranian intelligence ministry and individuals, officials said.

Also on Tuesday, the Netherlands government accused Tehran of hatching plots and involvement in two killings in 2015 and 2017, sending a letter, signed by the foreign and interior ministers, to the Dutch parliament to warn of further economic embargos if Tehran did not cooperate with European probes.

The Dutch government said the expulsion in June 2018 of two diplomats from the Iranian embassy in the Netherlands had been in retaliation for the murders and the Iranian ambassador had been summoned at the time.

The Council added 2 Iranian individuals and the Directorate for Internal Security of the Iranian Ministry for Intelligence and Security to the European Union terrorist list (measures set down in common position 2001/931/CFSP).

The new sanctions were a "strong signal from the EU" that it "would not accept" assassination plots on its territory, Denmark's foreign minister Anders Samuelsen said.

Dick Schoof, the director general of the Dutch security service, the AIVD, said it was involved in "intense" efforts with other countries to research the extent of Iranian "interference" in Europe.

"Iran was informed that involvement in such matters is entirely unacceptable and must be stopped immediately. further sanctions can not be ruled out", the letter said.

Iran denies any involvement in the killings.

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In October, France publicly accused Iranian intelligence of being behind a plan to bomb a rally of opposition groups in Paris.

The MEK-linked National Council of Resistance of Iran called the EU sanctions "a positive, necessary but insufficient step" and called for the bloc to expel all of Tehran's "agents" on European soil. The latter was dissident Iranian Arab activist Ahmad Mola Nissi who was gunned down by an unidentified assailant in front of his home in The Hague.

One of the individuals being added to the terror list is Saeid Hashemi Moghadam - the head of the Directorate for Internal Security in Iran's Intelligence ministry - whose assets had already been targeted by France.

"Accusing Iran won't absolve Europe of responsibility for harboring terrorists", he wrote.

Pompeo's reaction came amid an EU-US rift on Iran after US leader Donald Trump walked out of the Iran nuclear arms control deal previous year and threatened sanctions against EU firms who did business there. "The newly imposed sanctions offer some hope that a growing number of countries are willing to take an active, clear stand against Iran's global campaign of terrorism".

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"Iran was informed that involvement in such matters is entirely unacceptable and must be stopped immediately. further sanctions can not be ruled out", a separate statement by the group of European countries imposing the sanctions read.

The blacklisting move could complicate European Union efforts to keep alive the nuclear deal with Iran in the wake of the USA pullout.

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