Saudi Shura Council urges world countries to take whatever measures against persons involved in attempt on the life of Saudi ambassador in Washington

ISESCO condemns assassination plot

U.S. embarks on series of serious steps against Tehran, urges world nations not to receive Iranian leaders

Ban Ki-moon refers issue to UN Security Council

Iran says ready to cooperate with probe, warns of any assaults on it

Majlis Al-Shura strongly condemned and denounced an outrageous attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to United States of America, stressing that the attempt, which was recently foiled by the U.S. authorities, is against the values of Islam and its tolerant principles.

That attempt is a flagrant violation of all international conventions and diplomatic principles as well as a clear violation of the rules and principles of international relations emphasizing not to prejudice the sovereignty of countries and their integrity, Majlis Al-Shura made clear at the outset of its 57th session presided over by its Vice Speaker Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed Hajjar.

In a statement read by Dr. Hajjar, Majlis Al-Shura said that this plot revealed a deep grudge of those who have planned and supported it against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, leadership, government and people due to its Islamic and international status and its leading role in maintaining security in the region as well as in serving international peace and security.

Majlis Al-Shura also asserted its rejection of this conspiracy and all attempts to destabilize the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and threaten its security and spread sedition among its people, confirming its full support for all actions and policies undertaken by the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on saving the security and stability of this precious country and its people and deterring whoever tries to tamper the security and safety of Saudi diplomats abroad.

Majlis Al-Shura called on the international community, world and regional parliamentary unions as well as Arab, Islamic and international legislative councils and parliaments to condemn this terrorist attempt which threatens international peace and security, taking actions necessary against all those who support terrorist acts and exercising pressure on them to abandon such practices.

In a press statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the session, the Secretary General of Majlis Al-Shura Dr. Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Ghamdi pointed out that the Majlis discussed two fiscal reports of Saudi Arabian Airlines of 1428/1429H - 1430/1431H.

He added that Majlis Al-Shura also approved that applying the provisions of the common system to extend insurance protection to the citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member Countries working outside their countries in any GCC member country is optional.

Al-Ghamdi said that Majlis Al-Shura discussed a draft agreement of economic, commercial, investment and technical cooperation among GCC Member Countries and the Kingdom of Malaysia.

It has also discussed a report of the Financial Affairs Committee on the draft protocol to the Convention signed between the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Government of the Republic of France to avoid double taxation on income taxes, inheritance, and capital.

The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) strongly denounced the plot by official parties in Iran to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington Ambassador Adel A. Al-Jubeir. The plot was uncovered by US official authorities.

In a communiqué released this week, ISESCO stated that this heinous criminal act runs counter to the Islamic teachings and values. It also stressed that this constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and diplomatic norms, and has to be firmly condemned and its masterminds brought to account before justice in order to preserve security and peace around the world.

In the same vein, ISESCO expressed its surprise that such hideous scheme should be orchestrated by a Member State of ISESCO against another Member State that has a lead role in promoting Islamic joint action and supporting its various organizations and bodies; chief among these is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation under the aegis of which ISESCO is operating as one of its major specialized organizations.

ISESCO further stressed the necessity to respect brotherly bonds among Member States and prevent all that could undermine them, the ultimate goal being to foster Islamic solidarity and preserve the unity and supreme interests of the Muslim Ummah.

The U.S. launched a full-court press portraying Iran as an outlaw state that threatens global security.

In doing so, the Obama administration laid the groundwork for efforts to ratchet up multilateral sanctions, isolate the regime diplomatically and perhaps take other actions.

Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the offense, with Biden denouncing the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington - - foiled by U.S. authorities -- as “outrageous.” Clinton demanded Iran be held accountable for “a flagrant violation of international and U.S. law.”

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns invited some 100 foreign diplomats in Washington to the State Department for a meeting revealing details of the alleged plot, while U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice -- flanked by officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice and State Departments -- briefed UN Security Council members in New York.

Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, told reporters the U.S. accusation is “a really big lie” and “doesn’t make sense.” He also accused the U.S. of setting a “dangerous precedent” in drumming up international condemnation for something he said Iran hasn’t done.

The Treasury Department, meanwhile, imposed sanctions on Mahan Air, an Iranian commercial airline it accused of “secretly ferrying operatives, weapons and funds” for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds Force unit.

In Tehran, the Foreign Ministry summoned a Swiss diplomat who represents U.S. interests in Iran to answer questions about the U.S. federal indictment, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.

Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old Iranian native and naturalized U.S. citizen who was working as a used car salesman in Texas, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iranian member of the Quds Force, were charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiracy to use plastic explosives to murder Saudi Ambassador Adel al- Jubeir. Arbabsiar is in U.S. custody; Shakuri remains at large, U.S. officials said.

U.S. administration officials briefed key lawmakers on the plot, and a number of senators and former officials publicly called for stronger action against Iran beyond existing sanctions that critics say have failed to stop Iran from supporting terror groups or ceasing a suspected nuclear weapons program.

Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, called for swift passage of legislation he co-sponsored in May to toughen sanctions against Iran, North Korea and Syria.

“It is time for the United States and our allies to make clear to Iran’s leaders that if they continue on their current outlaw course, they will face more than just further incremental ratcheting up of economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure,” Lieberman said in a statement.

The brazenness of the plan suggests Iran’s leaders “did not believe there would be serious repercussions if their role was discovered,” Elliott Abrams, a former deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush, said.

Abrams, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, said the challenge facing the Obama administration “is to determine how to punish Iran in ways” that persuade Iran’s leaders to cease “any future plans for terrorism against Americans or in the United States.”

The U.S. designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1984 and says Iran provides weapons, training and money to Hamas and Hezbollah, among other Middle East militant groups that the U.S. classifies as terrorist organizations.

The Obama administration also reached out to leaders of the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council, seeking to rally support for tightening sanctions on Iran.

Clinton telephoned numerous counterparts, the State Department said, including the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Russia and Mexico, which the U.S. credited with helping foil the alleged plot by members of Iran’s Quds force to hire Mexican drug traffickers to carry out a bombing targeting the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

The gravity of the allegations has raised the possibility the U.S. will pursue punitive measures at the world body against Iran, which is already under four rounds of UN sanctions because of what the U.S. and other nations allege is a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

U.S. financial institutions are barred from dealing with Iranian government institutions, and in August a bipartisan group of 92 U.S. senators called on President Barack Obama to impose “crippling sanctions” on Iran’s central bank, Bank Markazi, under last year’s Iran Sanctions Act. The move was led by Senators Mark Kirk, a Republican of Illinois, and Chuck Schumer, a Democrat of New York.

U.S. and European sanctions on more than 20 Iranian banks have hampered the country’s international commerce, and Iranian officials have talked to Chinese counterparts about creating a barter system to use Iranian oil to pay for Chinese construction projects in Iran, according to several U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

On the Senate floor, Kirk called on the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank to ban any transactions with the Iran’s central bank.

“Their currency would become like North Korea’s currency,” Kirk said.

The Treasury Department hasn’t sanctioned Iran’s Central Bank, though it is already cut off from the U.S. financial system since financial dealings with Iranian government entities are prohibited.

“In coming days, the exchange of rhetoric will be aggressive, and Saudi Arabia will likely downgrade, or even break, relations with Iran,” Cliff Kupchan, an analyst at New York-based research firm Eurasia Group, said in an e-mail.

Although the alleged plot seemed amateurish considering that the suspects dealt with a Drug Enforcement Agency informant whom they hadn’t vetted, made a $100,000 wire transfer to pay for the alleged scheme and discussed it on the telephone, U.S. officials said they concluded that it wasn’t a rogue operation.

Officials told reporters they believe the plan was likely discussed and approved at high levels of the Iranian government.

The Quds Force, with several thousand officers, is the arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for covert and special operations outside Iran, including arming and training Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq to attack U.S. troops. It reports to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

U.S. officials asserted it is possible that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn’t know of the risky plan to murder an ambassador in a restaurant in the American capital.

The officials said that some political hardliners who have recently reached high positions in the Iranian government have little or no experience in the West and may have failed to understand how the U.S. and other countries would respond to the plot to kill a diplomat on foreign soil.

Perhaps the most effective retaliation against Iran, one U.S. official suggested, would be for Saudi Arabia to boost its crude production in an effort to depress oil prices. Such a move would hurt Iran, which is the second-largest producer in OPEC and holder of the world’s fourth-biggest proven oil reserves.”

Saudi Arabia is OPEC’s biggest producer. Saudi Arabia produced 9.76 million barrels a day in September, up 9.4 percent from 8.93 million barrels a day in May, according to Bloomberg data.

Tensions between predominately Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran date back to Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini accused Saudi rulers of corruption and argued that the holy sites of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia shouldn’t be under a single country’s guardianship. Saudi authorities have blamed unrest among Shiites in the Eastern Province, where the oil is, and in nearby Bahrain on instigations by Iran.

“For investors,” Kupchan said, “the main concern will be the prospect of tension and proxy hostilities between these two top oil producers.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday he has passed to the U.N. Security Council correspondence about U.S. suspicions of Iran's involvement in an alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

"I have received correspondence from the United States, Iran and also the Saudi government," he said.

The United States said last Tuesday it had uncovered a plot by two men with links to Iran's security forces to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, by planting a bomb in a Washington restaurant. The Iranian government denies any involvement. V One of the men, who allegedly paid a U.S. undercover agent posing as a Mexican drug cartel hitman to carry out the assassination, has been arrested while the United States says the other is in Iran.

Ban declined to comment on whether Iran was likely to face further sanctions. U.S. President Barack Obama has promised to press for "the toughest possible sanctions" against Iran, and said he would not take any options off the table.

However, Iran's leadership claimed the allegation had been engineered to further isolate Tehran -- whose disputed nuclear program has triggered several rounds of international sanctions against it.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saturday the alleged plot was a "meaningless and nonsensical accusation.

Iran said on Monday it would examine "seriously and patiently" U.S. allegations it planned to assassinate a Saudi ambassador and called on Washington to send evidence of the plot it has dismissed as baseless propaganda.

"We are prepared to examine any issue, even if fabricated, seriously and patiently, and we have called on America to submit to us any information in regard to this scenario," Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

U.S. authorities said last week they had foiled a plot to kill Saudi's ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, and had arrested an Iranian-U.S. joint national -- news that raised tensions between Tehran, its Arab neighbors and the West.

President Barack Obama said the foiled plot should lead to tighter sanctions against Iran -- already under several rounds of U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program -- and repeated that all options are on the table to deal with the Islamic republic, a tacit threat of possible military action.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday he had passed correspondence about the U.S. suspicions of Iran's involvement in the alleged plot to the U.N. Security Council.

Tehran says Washington fabricated the plot to divert attention from its own economic problems and increase pressure on Iran, which it has long considered a supporter of "terrorist" groups with nuclear weapons ambitions.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned the West Iran will counter any "inappropriate measure" taken against it and said he had no fear of military or sanctions threats.

"Despite the high military, security, propaganda and sanctions pressure, the Islamic Republic is proud not to back down even an iota during the past 32 years," he said in a televised speech during a tour of Kermanshah province.

"The Iranian nation and its officials will not yield to the enemies' blackmailing and pressure."

The plot furor appears to have killed any chance of a rapid return to talks between Tehran and world powers concerned about its nuclear program, but Salehi said Iran continued to make strides in the technology it says is for purely peaceful ends.

Salehi conceded Iran had initially feared the assassination of a nuclear scientist in Tehran last November -- which it blamed on Israel -- had dealt a severe blow to a key part of its atomic work.

"When (Majid) Shahriyari was martyred we were worried because he was the only person who knew about this professional field (enriching uranium to 20 percent purity)," he said.

"But after our trip to (the nuclear plant in the city of) Isfahan, I understood that the graceful martyr had trained about 20 people in his workshops. Right now we have several thousand nuclear engineers and there is almost nothing in the nuclear issue that we want to achieve but cannot."

Iran's announcement last year that it had escalated uranium enrichment from the low level needed for electricity production to 20 percent, alarmed many countries that feared it was a key step toward making material potent enough for a nuclear bomb.

Tehran says the fuel is needed to make isotopes for cancer treatment and previous nuclear talks focused on a deal to deliver ready-made fuel for its medical reactor in exchange for some of Iran's stock of low-enriched uranium.

Salehi said in January -- ahead of the last round of nuclear talks that then stalled -- that such a fuel swap deal was becoming less relevant as Iran would be able to produce its own fuel plates for the reactor in the first half of the Iranian year, which began in March.

With that deadline already passed, Salehi said on Monday Iran would be producing the medical reactor fuel within the next four to five months.

He said Iran had produced almost 70 kg (150 lb) of 20 percent enriched uranium, up from an estimated 40 kg in January.