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JERUSALEM, Israel – Albania on Wednesday pulled the plug on diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran over a major cyberattack carried out by Tehran nearly two months ago on Albanian government websites.
Albania now joins the United States, Canada, Israel and Morocco in slashing ties with Iran’s regime due to its alleged nefarious activities. Iran cut ties with Israel following the Islamic revolution in 1979.
“The deep investigation put at our disposal undeniable evidence that the cyberattack against our country was orchestrated and sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran which had involved four groups for the attack on Albania,” said Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama said in a video statement.
Albania’s decision to kick Iranian diplomats out of the southeastern European country comes amid continuing efforts by the Biden administration to, what critics say, reward Tehran with as much as $275 billion in economic benefits as part of a new Iran nuclear deal.
Critics say the proposed deal that would merely restrict Iran from building a nuclear weapons device for a limited period of time. One study estimated that Tehran could receive as much as $1 trillion by 2030 from the U.S. brokered atomic deal.
The Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 because U.S. officials said the theocratic state used the agreement’s financial benefits to promote terrorism and other illegal activities. According to then-President Trump, the nuclear deal did not impede Tehran from developing an atomic bomb.
In a statement, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said “The United States strongly condemns Iran’s cyberattack against our NATO Ally, Albania. We join in Prime Minister Rama’s call for Iran to be held accountable for this unprecedented cyber incident. The United States will take further action to hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten the security of a U.S. ally and set a troubling precedent for cyberspace.”
Albania, a NATO member since 2009, is home to about 3,000 Iranian dissidents of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq group, best known as MEK, who live at Ashraf 3 Camp in Manez, which is 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Albania’s capital, Tirana. The MEK is part of an umbrella organization called the National Council of Resistance of Iran. An event earlier this summer hosted by the group was postponed by Albanian authorities citing a security risk.
Albania’s government ordered all Iranian embassy staff, including diplomatic and security personnel, to leave Albania within 24 hours.
Banafsheh Zand, a prominent Iranian-American analyst of the Islamic Republic, told Fox News Digital, “The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again, expecting different results. This has been the approach international leaders (including the Russians, the British and the Chinese) adopted with the Khomeinist regime, 43 years ago and continue to employ, despite the Shi’a Mafia’s persistent criminal behavior and their own admission to their intentions. Tehran will continue to act this way until every last one of their allies grasp this reality about them.”
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was the founder of the revolutionary Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.
Shirin Nariman, an Iranian-American human rights activist and supporter of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, told Fox News Digital, “This is something that every country should do to Iran. This has happened before with South Africa when the world boycotted South Africa for Apartheid. The NCRI has asked for a long time for countries to sever ties with Iran and shut down the embassies.”
She added that “Albania is on the right path, and I wish more European countries would follow. Iran will not stop and will continue with cyberattacks and terrorism. If no one responds, Iran is encouraged to do more.”
Fox News Digital sent press queries to Iran’s foreign ministry and its mission to the U.N.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.