Iran's supreme leader warns U.S. over alleged D.C. terror plot
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's supreme leader warned the United States on Sunday that any measures taken against Tehran over an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington would elicit a "resolute" response.
Two men, including a member of the Iranian special foreign actions unit known as the Quds Force, have been charged in New York federal court with conspiring to kill the Saudi diplomat, Adel Al-Jubeir. U.S. officials have said no one was ever in any immediate danger from the plot.
"If U.S. officials have some delusions, (they must) know that any unsuitable act, whether political or security, will meet a resolute response from the Iranian nation," state TV quoted Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying.
Iran also demanded that a diplomat be allowed to visit one of the men in prison.
Khamenei's comments may reflect Iranian concerns that Washington would use the Al-Jubeir case to ratchet up sanctions and recruit international allies to try to further isolate Tehran.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been blunt in saying the United States would use the allegations as leverage with other countries that have been reluctant to apply harsh sanctions or penalties against Iran.
Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, said that the U.S. accused Iran of terror in order to divert attention from its economic woes and from the Occupy Wall Street protest movement.
"By attributing an absurd and meaningless accusation to a few Iranians, they tried ... to show that Iran is a supporter of terrorism. ... This conspiracy didn't work and won't work," he said.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for his part, dismissed the U.S. accusations as a fabricated "scenario."
"Iran is a civilized nation and doesn't need to resort to assassination," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying Sunday by the official IRNA news agency. "The culture of terror belongs to you," he said, addressing the United States.
Iranian officials have consistently denied the allegations since they first emerged last week. An earlier statement by Khamenei on Saturday, and Ahmadinejad's remarks on Sunday, were the first comments made by the country's two highest leaders.
In a formal statement released Saturday, the Iranian government said it has no connection to Manssor Arbabsiar, the man arrested in the alleged plot.
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