Iran‘s Intelligence Ministry said on Wednesday that detained two Europeans while an envoy from the European Union was visiting the country due to the stalemate in its nuclear negotiations with world powers.
The ministry’s announcement, during the visit of EU envoy Enrique Mora, comes as Tehran already threatens to execute a Swedish-Iranian investigator jailed since 2016, and as another Iranian citizen faces life in prison in Sweden.
Iran has long faced accusations that it uses its arrests as a bargaining chip with the West. Tehran denies this, although negotiations around its landmark 2015 nuclear deal saw the Americans released in a trade.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards reportedly attacked Kurdish positions in northern Iraq.
The ministry said in a statement that the two Europeans planned to turn routine demands from various social and professional groups into “chaos, social disorder and instability.”
He did not identify the nationality of the detainees. Sweden said on Friday that one of its citizens traveling as a tourist was detained in Iran, but it was not clear if his case was related to the intelligence ministry’s announcement.
The statement alleges that the two are agents “professional experts” who were hired by the intelligence apparatus of a European country. He said that the ministry was persecuting them from “the moment of their arrival” and that all their relations with the “illegal Council of the League of Teachers” were documented.
Iran has faced regular protests from teachers over pay disputes.
Mora’s visit comes as nuclear deal talks in Vienna have stalled. The deal, in which Tehran limited its enrichment for the lifting of economic sanctions, appears stalled by Iranian demands that the United States eliminate the Guard as a terrorist organization.
Despite repeated Iranian claims that a separate deal would allow billions of dollars in assets to be unfrozen and prisoners to be swapped with the United States, the State Department has repeatedly said that no deal on either a prisoner swap or a prisoner swap is imminent. the nuclear deal.
The deal fell through after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018. Since then, Iran has accelerated its uranium enrichment, including a small amount to 60% purity, a short technical step from grade levels. of weapons.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian offered his support for the ongoing negotiations.
“Talks to lift sanctions to reach a good, strong and stable deal in the right direction while watching Iran’s red lines,” he wrote on Twitter. However, hardliners inside Iran have criticized any possible deviation from the agreement or the list. of the Guard.
Separately, The International Atomic Energy Agency, tasked with monitoring Iran’s nuclear program, has become increasingly critical of Iran’s lack of cooperation with the organization and its refusal to explain traces of radioactive material at several undeclared nuclear sites in the country. Iran has also refused to release IAEA surveillance tapes of its nuclear facilities, worrying nuclear non-proliferation experts.
Meanwhile, Iran is threatening to execute Iranian-Swedish doctor Ahmad Reza Jalali no later than May 21. Jalali is a Swedish-Iranian doctor who specializes in disaster relief and has taught at European universities. Rights groups have condemned his arrest.
The announcement of his imminent execution came after Iran summoned its Swedish envoy in a landmark trial in Sweden of an Iranian national accused of mass executions committed during the final phase of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
Swedish prosecutors are seeking life in prison for Hamid Nouri, who has been in custody in Sweden since his arrest in Stockholm in November 2019. The Stockholm District Court said a verdict in that case was expected on July 14.
Separately on Wednesday, the Guard targeted what it called a “terrorist base” near Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, without giving details. In the past, the Guard has attacked Kurdish opposition groups in northern Iraq using missiles. Iraqi and Kurdish officials did not immediately acknowledge the attacks.
(with information from AP)
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