US dismisses Iranian letter as a `rant`

The US has dismissed as a rant an Iranian letter to Washington over allegations of an Iranian plot to murder the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

Last Updated: Dec 02, 2011, 12:58 PM IST

Washington: The United States has dismissed as
"a rant" an Iranian letter to Washington over allegations of
an Iranian plot to murder the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

"We did receive a lengthy diplomatic note from the Swiss
protecting power on behalf of the Iranians," US State
Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said yesterday after
Washington received the letter from Swiss intermediaries.

In the absence of US-Iranian diplomatic relations for more
than three decades, Switzerland acts on behalf of US interests
in Tehran.

"It was about seven pages. It was a rant. It was full of
all kinds of denials. There was not a lot new in there from
our perspective," Nuland told reporters.

In Tehran, Iran`s foreign ministry spokesman Ramin
Mehmanparast said yesterday that Iran had sent a letter to the
United States seeking an "official apology of the Americans in
protest of this made-up scenario."

He explained the Iranian letter was in response to a US
one, whose contents he did not divulge.

On October 11, US officials alleged Iran`s Quds Force --
an elite wing of the Revolutionary Guards -- plotted to kill
the Saudi ambassador to Washington by hiring assassins from a
Mexican drug cartel for USD 1.5 million.

An Iranian-American car salesman accused of involvement in
the plot pleaded not guilty in a New York court last week.

In the case of foreign central banks, the legislation
would only apply to transactions for the sale or purchase of
petroleum products and only after determining that the country
with jurisdiction over the institution 1) has sufficient
alternative petroleum supplies and 2) where the country has
not taken steps to significantly reduce its purchases of
Iranian petroleum or petroleum products.

The amendment also exempts from sanctions transactions
for food, medicine and medical devices. The amendment seeks to
deny Iran the resources for its nuclear weapons programme.

Applauding the passage of this bipartisan legislation,
Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, said Iran`s
actions are unacceptable and pose a danger to the US
and the entire world.

"Iran supports terrorist groups, arms the killers of
American soldiers, lies about its nuclear program, violates
its citizens` basic rights, and threatens Israel`s security.

We will take every step necessary to protect Nevadans
and all Americans from any threats to our safety," he said.

"The Central Bank of Iran is complicit in Iran`s
nuclear venture, financing the Iranian effort to acquire the
knowledge, materials and facilities to enrich uranium and to
ultimately develop weapons of mass destruction; assisting the
Iranian government in the evasion of multilateral sanctions;
and engaging in deceptive financial practices and illicit
transactions," said Menendez, who was instrumental behind
moving this key legislation.

Asserting that the US cannot accept an Iran with
nuclear weapons, Senator Mark Kirk said as the world’s leading
state sponsor of terrorism, it`s quite likely that the Iranian
regime would transfer nuclear weapons to terrorist
organisations like Hezbollah and Hamas.

"We can be sure that an Iranian bomb would set off a
nuclear arms race in the Middle East from Saudi Arabia to
Egypt. The Central Bank of Iran is the primary bankroller
of Iran`s global terror network, its nuclear programme and
other illicit activities. The time has come to impose
crippling sanctions on this terrorist and nuclear-financing
institution," he said.

"There is proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that Iran
is developing a nuclear weapon, and we must cut off those
nuclear ambitions at the source by sanctioning the Central
Bank of Iran," said Senator Charles Schumer.

"Iran could be on the cusp of having at least one
workable nuclear weapon within a year and another deadly bomb
six months after that. The extreme and dangerous government of
Ahmadinejad must be held accountable," he said.

In another statement, Senator Ben Cardin asked President
Barack Obama to support strong sanctions against those who do
business with Iran.

"While I appreciate the efforts of the Obama
Administration in implementing existing sanctions and working
to gather more international support for sanctions against
we’ve seen that many in the international community will move
slowly or not act without the US," he said.

PTI