Persian state warns West it will avenge any attacks against it over Saudi envoy murder plot
Iran demanded consular access on Sunday to a man held in the
United States over a suspected plot to kill the Saudi ambassador and vowed to
respond robustly to any "inappropriate measure" by the West.
Manssor Arbabsiar, who holds US and Iranian citizenship, was
arrested in September over the plot which Tehran called a fabricated
"comedy show" but which US lawmakers said was "very real"
and showed the need for tougher sanctions on Iran.
"Any inappropriate measure against Iran, whether
political or security-related, will be strongly confronted by the Iranian
nation," Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, accusing Washington
of inventing the plot to divert attention from the "Occupy Wall
US authorities announced the plot last Tuesday, saying
Arbabsiar, a naturalised US citizen, had paid a US undercover agent posing as a
Mexican drug cartel hit man to assassinate Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir.
Many experts, and some Washington officials, expressed
doubts over the plot, which even the head of the FBI said sounded like a
Hollywood script, but the heads of the intelligence committees in the US Congress
appeared on television on Sunday to say it should be taken seriously.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein
said she was initially sceptical when first briefed about the plot in September
but now believed "it's very real".
"Our country should not be looking to go to war,"
Feinstein told the "Fox News Sunday" programme. "We should be
looking to stop bad behaviour, short of war."
President Barack Obama said on Thursday that Iran - already
at odds with Western governments over its nuclear programme - would face the
toughest possible sanctions and the United States would not take any options
off the table, the standard code to refer to possible military action.
Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss charge d'affaires
who represents US interests in the country that broke ties with Washington
shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
"There is no doubt regarding the baselessness of the US
allegations," a ministry official told the Swiss representative, according
to state broadcaster IRIB.
"However, providing personal information about the
accused and consular access to him is among the duties of the US government.
Any delay in that respect would be in contravention of international law and
the US government's responsibilities," the unidentified official said.
Iran's diplomatic interests in the Untied States are handled
by an office in the Pakistani embassy.
US officials have mooted the possibility of upping sanctions
on the Central Bank of Iran - a move which could make it harder for Tehran to
receive payment for its oil exports, a vital source of hard currency.
House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman
Mike Rogers said Washington should be pushing for tighter sanctions.
"Put pressure on the Chinese and the Russians and say,
listen, you're either going to stand with the nation that is engaged in
nation-state terrorism or you're going to stand with the rest of the
international community," he told ABC's "This Week".