A senior European Union envoy was detained by German police at Frankfurt airport this morning along with two other officials in what he suggested was a violation of international rules protecting the holders of diplomatic passports.
Enrique Mora, one of the EU’s chief diplomats in nuclear talks with Iran, was returning from a visit to Tehran, where he was working on what has been described as the last chance to salvage the 2015 deal abandoned by President Trump in 2018.
Mora, who holds a Spanish diplomatic passport, was detained with Stephan Klement, the EU ambassador to Vienna — where the US began renewed talks with Iran in April last year — and Bruno Scholl, the head of the EU’s Iran task force, as they were waiting at passport control at Frankfurt.
There were varying accounts of how long they were held. One official said it was 30 minutes, while another said it was an hour and 20 minutes, the news website Politico reported, adding that police gave no explanation for the detention despite Mora asking several times.
“Retained by the German police at the Francfort [sic] airport on my way to Brussels, back from Teheran [sic],” Mora tweeted. “Not a single explanation. An EU official on an official mission holding a Spanish diplomatic passport. Took out my passport and my phones.”
In a later tweet, Mora said that he, Klement and Scholl had been released. “We were kept separated,” Mora said. “Refusal to give any explanation for what seems a violation of the Vienna Convention.” The convention enshrines diplomatic immunity.
There was no immediate comment from the German police or foreign ministry.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency alleged without evidence that Israel was behind the incident. “What has happened in Frankfurt has to do with opposition to the progress in the nuclear talks … the Zionist lobby has influence in the German security apparatus,” it said.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, has said that he believes there has been enough progress during Mora’s talks with Iranian officials to relaunch nuclear negotiations after two months of deadlock. Borrell said that Iran’s response had been “positive enough” after Mora delivered a message that things could not continue as they were.
“These things cannot be resolved overnight,” Borrell said at a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Kiel, northern Germany. “Let’s say the negotiations were blocked and they have been de-blocked and that means there is the prospective of reaching a final agreement.”
The accord curbs Iran’s nuclear programme in return for relief from economic sanctions. Since the talks to restore it began in April of last year they have stalled over last-minute Russian demands and a dispute over the US government’s designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian armed forces, as a foreign terrorist organisation.