Iran has described allegations by the US that Tehran had planned to kill Saudi Arabia's American ambassador as an "evil plot." Two men have been charged and the US has issued a global terrorism warning.
US authorities believe Iranian officials are behind the alleged plot
Iran has condemned as "shameful" an allegation by the United States that Tehran had planned to have the Saudi ambassador to Washington killed, calling it an "evil plot in line with anti-Iranian policy."
The US said earlier that authorities had foiled an assassination attempt on the Saudi ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, and claimed that one of the two men charged was a member of Iran's official elite Quds force, part of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.
In a written complaint to the United Nations, Iran's US ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, said his country rejected "terrorism in all its forms and manifestations" and said Iran was the victim.
Khazaee cited the recent killing of Iranian nuclear scientists and accused Israel of having carried out the murders with US support.
But the US State Department has issued a global travel warning for American nationals, saying there is a threat of "anti-US actions." According to the alert, the US government believes the "Iranian-backed plan […] may indicate a more aggressive focus" by Iran.
Iran's leaders have long been a thorn in Washington's side
It says Iranian-sponsored attacks could include strikes in the United States.
And the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the US would discuss ways to "further isolate" Iran with other governments.
"We will be consulting with our friends and partners around the world about how we can send a very strong message that this kind of action, which violates international norms, must be ended," Clinton told reporters on Tuesday, adding that this "blatant violation" gives the US "extra leverage in dealing with Iran."
US authorities said they had charged two men, both of Iranian origin, in connection with the terror plot. Manssor Arbabsiar, a naturalized US citizen with an Iranian passport, was arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City on September 29. The second man charged is Gholam Shakuri, who US authorities say is a member of the Quds Force. He is believed to be in Iran at present.
The US Justice Department says the assassination plot began in May of this year, when Arbabsiar approached what he thought was an associate of a Mexican drug cartel to target al-Jubeir. But the contact turned out to be an informant for the US Drug Enforcement Agency, who immediately told US authorities about the plot.
"The idea that they would attempt to go to a Mexican drug cartel to solicit murder-for-hire to kill the Saudi ambassador, nobody could make that up, right?" said Clinton.
Author: Zulfikar Abbany, Nicole Goebel (AP, Reuters, AFP)
Editor: Michael Lawton