US and European leaders lambasted Iran Wednesday over its alleged plans to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington and target the Israeli embassy in a major terror plot, threatening retaliation for the “outrageous act”.
AFP – The United States and its European allies on Wednesday warned that Iran may face retaliation after Washington detailed an alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US.
The United States, through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, said Tehran must be held accountable and urged international condemnation.
The plot is "a flagrant violation of international and US law and a dangerous escalation of the Iranian government's long-standing use of political violence and sponsorship of terrorism", Clinton said. "Iran must be held accountable for its actions."
"It is an outrageous act, where the Iranians will have to be held accountable," Biden earlier told ABC television's "Good Morning America" programme.
"We're in the process of uniting world public opinion continuing to isolate and condemn their behavior," the US vice president added.
But the Pentagon played down the prospect of military action, saying the alleged plot required a diplomatic and legal response.
"The US military has longstanding concerns about Iran's malign influence in the region. But with respect to this case, it is a judicial and diplomatic issue," Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby told reporters.
In its first official reaction, Saudi Arabia "strongly" condemned the plot, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
"The Kingdom strongly condemns the sinful and abhorrent attempt to assassinate the (Saudi) envoy... to the Unites States," SPA said, quoting an unnamed official.
"The government of the kingdom appreciates the efforts exerted by the American authorities, which were followed by the kingdom, in uncovering the plot," the official added.
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council said the plot to kill the Saudi envoy "severely" harms relations with Iran, SPA said.
But Iran dismissed the US claims as "mischievous".
"America has launched a mischievous scenario," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters after a cabinet session, Iran's Arabic-language Alalam channel reported.
"America has launched this diversion because of its internal problems," Salehi said, adding that Iran's relations with Saudi Arabia were "good".
In Brussels, the European Union voiced "grave concern", saying that, if confirmed, the plot "would constitute a major breach of international law with serious international implications".
"We call on the government of Iran to fully cooperate with the US justice system," Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton, told a news briefing.
"We have taken note with grave concern the information that was provided by the US Justice Department regarding this alleged participation of two Iranian individuals in a plot to murder the Saudi ambassador to the US, and alleged involvement of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps," she said.
In Paris, the French foreign ministry also slammed what it called "a scandalous violation of international law", adding that those who mounted and ordered the plot "must be held accountable".
The ministry spokesman, Bernard Valero, described the affair as "extremely serious".
At the United Nations, the United States meanwhile sought UN Security Council support for action to hold Iran "accountable", diplomats said.
The US ambassador, Susan Rice, held separate meetings with other envoys on the 15-member council. Britain and France have already indicated they would back the US moves.
Meanwhile a top commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards also denied any involvement of the force in the plot.
"America's claims about the involvement of some members of the Guards in the fabricated terror plot (targeting) a diplomat from an Arab country in Washington are ridiculous and baseless," Guards deputy commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami was quoted as saying on the state television website.
US authorities said Tuesday that two Iranians -- one also holding US citizenship -- were part of a plot "conceived, sponsored and directed from Iran" to kill Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir in a bomb attack.
The alleged plot involved detonating a bomb at a restaurant he frequented, an act which could also have claimed the lives of countless of innocent patrons.
Iran's state television website report, quoting an unnamed official, countered: "Since the victory of the Islamic revolution, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been the main victim of terrorist actions by terrorist groups which are supported by America."
Date created : 2011-10-12