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Clinton calls Iran plot 'dangerous escalation'

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the plot
was "a flagrant violation of international and US law"
© AFP/Getty Images/File Brendan Hoffman

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday denounced an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador on American soil as a 'dangerous escalation' by Tehran.

As the United States began individual consultations with UN Security Council ambassadors -- a possible precursor to international condemnation or some other action -- Clinton reiterated that Iran must be "held accountable."

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.

"We call upon other nations to join us in condemning this threat to international peace and security," the top US diplomat told journalists at a think-tank in Washington. "Iran must be held accountable for its actions."

Clinton said the plot was "directed by elements of the Iranian government," and said this "kind of reckless act undermines international norms and the international system."

The "US has increased our sanctions on individuals within the Iranian government who are associated with this plot and Iran's support for terrorism," she said.

Iran warned the United States to shy away from any confrontation over what Tehran called baseless allegations that it plotted to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

The US Justice Department on Tuesday named two Iranian suspects as Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, a naturalized US citizen, and Gholam Shakuri, said to be an Iran-based member of the Quds Force, a unit of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Shakuri remains at large while Arbabsiar was arrested on September 29 at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport and appeared in court Tuesday in Manhattan. His lawyer said he would plead not guilty, if charged.

US officials say the case was broken open by a paid US source posing as a member of a Mexico-based drug cartel, which the defendants believed would provide explosives for the attack on the ambassador.

Mexico said it cooperated closely with the US investigation, and said Arbabsiar was denied entry and put on a flight to New York, where he was arrested by US authorities.

© AFP -- Published at Activist Post with license