Iran warned: Britain must react to pro-democracy bombing plot

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The former NI secretary was one of 38 UK MPs and delegates attending the packed Free Iran rally in Paris when it was targeted by a bomb plot in 2018. The plot was thwarted at the last minute by intelligence services.

Iranian spymaster Assadollah Assadi, who was stationed at the regime’s Vienna embassy as third consul, last week became the first diplomat to be jailed for 20 years by an EU court for his role in masterminding the plot.

Though ostensibly serving as third consul in Iran’s Viennese Embassy, Assadi was actually European bureau chief for the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) – the regime’s equivalent of MI6.

Last week the Sunday Express revealed that, after his arrest, German police found a notebook in his car which meticulously detailed  meticulously detailed 289 places across 11 European countries where he is believed to have made contact with agents of the regime.

“There was a massive international reaction to the Salisbury poisonings, which led to the biggest explosion of Russian diplomats in history. But this bomb plot would have led to a much greater loss of life. It must trigger a complete reset of relations with Iran,’ said the MP for Chipping Barnett last night.

The plan would have seen 17½oz (500g) of “mother of Satan” TATP explosives placed next to Maryam Rajani, below, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance to Iran.

“If the plot had been successful we could have seen horrific loss of life,” said Mrs Villiers.

“It makes it more disturbing when you think it could have happened to you and your friends and colleagues as well

“There was a point when Mrs Rajavi came and sat next to the overseas delegates and she was right next to me. Any attack on her would certainly have killed a number of delegates.

“As NI Secretary I held a risky brief. I would receive letter bombs but these were unlikely to seriously injure anyone. It was nothing compared to this brush with death, If things had turned out differently, if the plot hadn’t been intercepted, I might not be here today.”

Her warning comes as the UK, Germany and France held a meeting with a new US administration on how to restart the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal.

“It’s hard to think how the JCPOA process will go from here,” she added.

“We will be negotiating with a government which employed a so-called diplomat who has just been sentenced to 20 years for planning a brutal violent attack on European soil.

“I would like a tougher approach to Iran. I can understand what there has been a lot of focus on the nuclear deal but it has always been the case that Iran is a major exporter of terror . There is a great range of issues such as human rights and its benevolent role though proxies in regional conflicts that was ignored past time and must not be now.”

Last weekend the UK, France and Germany held their first meeting with the new US administration to discuss the way forward in resuming the Iran nuclear deal – also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),

In July 2019, Iran breached the 3.67 per cent cap on uranium enrichment and in January this year announced it had resumed enriching uranium to 20 percent purity. Enriched uranium can be used to make reactor fuel, but also nuclear bombs.

US president Joe Biden has already rejected calls by Iran to drop sanctions imposed by his predecessor, Donald Trump, before talks on the Iran nuclear deal can resume.

The White House has indicated it will not return to the “path of diplomacy” until Iran adheres to its side of the agreement and curbs uranium enrichment.

But other US policymakers believe the new deal should be broadened to rein in Iran’s human rights abuses and regional terrorism.

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