The United States issued a worldwide travel alert for its citizens on Wednesday after accusing Iran of plotting to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington.
The US said two men, including an Iranian-born American, conspired to kill the Saudi Arabian envoy and carry out bomb attacks against Saudi and Israeli embassies.
The main suspect, 56-year-old Mansour Arbabsiar, appeared in a New York federal court on Tuesday. He allegedly has links to Iran’s secret services. Another Iran-based suspect remains at large.
US officials say the Iranians planned to hire Mexican drug traffickers to kill the Saudi ambassador in a Washington restaurant.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the allegations would only see Iran further isolated by the West. She said America’s allies would work together to step up sanctions.
Tehran dismissed Washington’s accusations as “a big lie”. Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaee, called the charges “fabricated and baseless”.
Saudi Arabia has vowed that Iran would “pay the price” for the alleged plot.
“The burden of proof is overwhelming… and clearly shows official Iranian responsibility for this. Somebody in Iran will have to pay the price,” senior Saudi prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador to Washington, said in London.
US officials said there could be a push for a new round of UN sanctions. Vice President Joe Biden said Iran would be held accountable and that Washington was working for a new round of international sanctions against Iran, warning that “nothing has been taken off the table”.