Iran says US plot suspect is anti-Tehran militant

Alleged plotter of Saudi envoy murder is US attempt to smear Iran, says official
Iran says US plot suspect is anti-Tehran militant
Manssor Arbabsiar pleaded not guilty at a court hearing last month in New York
By Reuters
Sun 06 Nov 2011 08:12 AM

Iran has complained
to the United Nations about a US accusation it tried to assassinate a Saudi
diplomat, saying one of the alleged plotters Washington calls an Iranian
military official is really a member of an anti-Tehran rebel group.

Foreign Minister Ali
Akbar Salehi said on Saturday the plot was part of a multi-pronged US strategy
to smear Tehran, a process he said would continue next week when the U.N.
nuclear agency publishes a report western diplomats say will contain new
evidence about Iran's nuclear programme.

The complaint to UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon turned the US accusation that Tehran supports
terrorism back onto Washington, Salehi said.

"This letter
contains our complaint about the plots of the United States, reliable
information that we have of the US involvement in those plots," he said in
a news conference broadcast live on the English language channel Press TV.

On its website,
Press TV reported the letter said a suspect who US prosecutors have identified
as an Iranian military official is actually a member of the exiled Iranian
rebel group Mujahideen Khalq Organisation (MKO).

One of two men
charged with plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington, 56-year-old
Iranian-American Manssor Arbabsiar, pleaded not guilty at a court hearing in
New York last month.

The second, Gholam
Shakuri, is still at large and US officials say he is a member of the Quds
Force, an arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, who approved the plan to hire
Mexican gangsters to murder Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir.

The semi-official Mehr
news agency reported on Oct 17 that Shakuri was a member of the MKO, also known
as the People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI), based in Iraq and
listed as a terrorist group by the United States.

Citing
"informed sources", Mehr said Shakuri had travelled to Washington and
to the MKO base at Camp Ashraf in Iraq.

Iranian officials
did not initially comment on the report which said Interpol had discovered
Shakuri's true identity, but Press TV reported on Saturday it was now in the
letter delivered to Ban.

Washington is using
what it says was a foiled plot to help bolster international support to tighten
sanctions on Iran which it accuses of developing nuclear weapons and sponsoring
terrorism, charges denied by Tehran.

Israeli and western
media have increased speculation in recent days that Israel might launch a
strike on Iran's nuclear sites. Some analysts say that, rather than any firm
evidence military action is imminent, the chatter reflects efforts to increase
diplomatic pressure on Tehran.

Salehi said Iran did
not fear possible revelations in a report to be issued by the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday that western diplomats say will make a
"compelling case" the Iranian nuclear programme is not entirely
peaceful.

"They are
claiming that they are going to publish new documents. We know what the truth
is -- let them publish them and we'll see what happens. Will they not be called
into question as an agency that is under pressure by foreign powers?"
Salehi said.

The IAEA report, the
assassination plot and accusations about human rights abuses were a
"three-pronged attack from the West against Iran ... just an assault to
pressure Iran into subjugation," he said.

Salehi repeated the
stance of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has said Iran has 100
"undeniable documents" proving US involvement in terrorism.

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