Iran, US & Canada, World News

U.S.A. make diplomatic push after alleged Iranian plot revealed


Saudi ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir was targeted for assassination, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says.

Saudi ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir was targeted for assassination, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Biden says the “consequences for Iran” are going to be “serious”
  • NEW: A Saudi prince says “someone in Iran” must “pay the price”
  • NEW: Britain is in close touch with the United States on the issueWashington  — Outrage toward Iran burned Wednesday over the alleged Iranian scheme to kill Saudi Arabia’s U.S. ambassador, with America’s vice president, the British prime minister, and a top Saudi prince warning of repercussions.”The consequences for Iran, I think, will be serious,” said Vice President Joe Biden, appearing on CBS. “I think what we have to do is unite the entire world against the Iranian behavior.”Biden said the United States is laying out its case about the plot to world leaders. He told NBC that there must be “accountability for Iran and further isolation of Iran in terms of their ability to operate around the world.” Iran is already subject to numerous American sanctions.

    “Every nation in the world, when they learn the facts of this, will be outraged that they would violate such an international norm, in addition to obviously being a crime to assassinate anybody, and in the process probably have killed scores of Americans,” the vice president said on NBC.

    Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said he believes “someone in Iran is going to have to pay the price” for the alleged plot to assassinate the kingdom’s ambassador to the United States.

    Al-Faisal, a key member of the royal family, was speaking at a conference in London Wednesday. Al-Faisal’s representatives said the remark was his personal view and not the official Saudi position. The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington has called the plot “a despicable violation of international norms, standards and conventions” and said it “is not in accord with the principles of humanity.”

    A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain is consulting with the United States on further action against Iran.

    “We are in close touch with the U.S. authorities and we will support measures to hold Iran accountable for its actions,” the spokesman said.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior diplomatic officials will place calls to foreign leaders and U.N. Security Council representatives to get tougher on Iran, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.

    That includes reaching out to key figures from countries such as Russia and China, which have diplomatic relations with both Washington and Tehran.

    The United States also plans to get in touch with leaders from the Arab League; the Gulf Cooperation Council, a coalition of Persian Gulf nations; and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which consists of 56 mainly Islamic states and promotes Muslim solidarity, said two Obama administration officials.

    Deputy Secretary of State William Burns will brief U.S. diplomats Wednesday to explain the details of how the scheme evolved, how the Obama administration handled it and the need to hold Iran accountable, a State Department official said.

    Iranian officials denied the allegations and called them fabrications. Ali Larijani, Iran’s speaker of parliament, railed against Washington Wednesday.

    “The Americans acted unprofessionally in their childish play against Iran,” he said. “The Americans want to divert attention from their own domestic problems as well as the awakening of the Muslim world by initiating a stupid mischief which apparently is quite complicated.”

    Details about the case surfaced Tuesday.

    Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, are accused of a conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, the FBI said Tuesday.

    Arbabsiar was arrested in September. Shakuri remains at large, the bureau said.

    The two were in a group that began planning this spring to kill Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir, the FBI said.

    The Saudi ambassador was not the only intended target, U.S. officials said. The suspects also discussed attacking Israeli and Saudi embassies in Washington and possibly Buenos Aires, Argentina, a senior U.S. official said.

    It is unclear why the Saudi ambassador was targeted, the official said, or how widespread knowledge or approval of the plot was within Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government.

    Authorities developed the case against the suspects with the help of an undercover informant posing as an associate of a Mexican drug cartel, according to officials and an FBI agent’s affidavit released Tuesday.

    Arbabsiar and the undercover informant allegedly discussed using explosives to kill the ambassador, possibly in a crowded restaurant, according to the affidavit.

    The informant named $1.5 million as his price, it said. Arbabsiar allegedly sent $100,000 intended as a down payment, telling the informant his “cousin” had deep pockets, court documents said.

    The alleged scheme involved the Quds Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that is suspected of being involved in a number of foreign operations, court documents and U.S. officials said.

    U.S. officials accuse the Quds Force of sponsoring attacks against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, the affidavit released Tuesday said. In October 2007, the Treasury Department designated it as “providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.”

    Cooperation with the Mexican government played a key role in the investigation, U.S. officials said.

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