EU takes Iranian group off list of terror outfits


Brussels : European Union (EU) foreign ministers Monday removed the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) from their list of terrorist organisations, despite public protests in Tehran.

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The widely expected move follows a ruling by the European Court in Luxembourg, which in December said the EU was wrong to keep the PMOI’s assets frozen after it was taken off a British list of terrorist organisations.

“What we are doing today is abiding by the resolution of the European Court. There’s nothing we can do about that resolution,” EU foreign-policy supremo Javier Solana said.

Founded in 1965, the PMOI operated a military wing in its early years, but says it renounced violence in June 2001 and now advocates the political overthrow of Iran’s current government.

Reports of the EU’s planned decision prompted street protests outside EU embassies in Tehran over the weekend by hundreds of Iranian students and relatives of veterans of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88).

Iran regards PMOI as a terrorist group owing to its involvement in the assassinations of several high-ranking Iranian officials, including the president and prime minister in 1980.

After the group was expelled from France in the 1980s, former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein allocated a military base to the PMOI near the border with Iran.

Before the ouster of Saddam, the PMOI frequently infiltrated Iranian territory, leading to clashes with Iranian forces and casualties on both sides.

Solana said the EU decision could only be reversed if new evidence against the PMOI was presented to the European courts.

“If there is something new that may be presented in front of the court, we’ll see,” Solana said.

Speaking at the start of regular EU talks in Brussels, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband once again criticised the Iranian regime’s refusal to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“The IAEA has expressed very serious concern about unanswered questions on the Iranian nuclear programme, so it is important that the UN security council has its will recognized in this area,” Miliband said.

A member of the exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran, the PMOI has played an active role in denouncing Iran’s nuclear programme.