Obama: No options off the table over Iran assassination plot
U.S. President says 'no dispute' Iranian government involved in alleged plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador in Washington.
U.S .President Barack Obama said Thursday there was "no dispute" that Iran was involved in an alleged terrorist plot against the Saudi ambassador in Washington that was uncovered this week.
"We would not be bringing forward a case unless we knew exactly how to support all the all facts contained in the indictment," Obama told a press conference during a visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
The United States filed charges Tuesday that Iranian agents planned to engage a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the US, Adel A Al-Jubeir, possibly through a bombing at al-Jubeir's favorite Washington restaurant.
The action is part of a "pattern of dangerous and reckless behavior by the Iranian government," Obama said, but declined to specify which officials in Tehran may have known about the plot
Despite the fact that Iran and the U.S. do not have diplomatic ties, State Department Spokeswoman suggested on Thursday that there have been contacts between the two countries. Victoria Nuland said in a press briefing that the U.S. has had "direct contact with Iran." "I'm not going to give you any further details than that," she said, "but just to say that we have direct contact with Iran on this issue."
Obama said he would "take any options off the table in terms of how we operate with Iran," but indicated the United States would continue to pressure Tehran, including pursuing tougher sanctions.
On Wednesday. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren said that Israel is taking seriously the thwarted plot - and the possibility that the Israeli Embassy was a target - saying it was "definitely an escalation" in an interview with MSNBC.
"We know the Iran regime. This is an Iranian regime that has not only sponsored terrorist organizations in our area, Hamas and Hezbollah, that have fired thousands and thousands of rockets at our civilian population, but they've struck abroad as well," Oren said in the interview.
The Israeli ambassador then went on to recount how Iran was responsible for the bombing of the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing over a hundred people.
" Iranian terrorist organizations have killed hundreds of American servicemen, whether in Saudi Arabia, in Iraq, in Lebanon back then - we always have to be vigilant about the Iranian government," Oren reportedly warned.
He said this was "definitely an escalation", adding that "it's not out of character for the Iranian regime; this is not a rational regime".
When asked whether Israel is going to take action against Iran, Oren told MSNBC "we are always fighting against Iranian terror at our borders and beyond our borders, and we're always vigilant and we have very good partners in the security and law enforcement institutions of the United States."