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October 16, 2011, 1:56 PM EDT
By Alan Bjerga and Susan Decker
Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) — Military force shouldn’t be ruled out as a response to an Iranian assassination plot on U.S. soil, the top House Republican on intelligence issues said.
“I don’t think you should take it off the table,” said Representative Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said on ABC’s “This Week.” Rogers said other options would include rallying the international community against Iran or taking action against Iranian operatives in Iraq.
U.S. officials are considering what action to take following the Justice Department’s Oct. 11 accusation that Iran sponsored a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. The conspiracy involved a secret Iranian military unit and a citizen of the Islamic Republic with a U.S. passport.
President Barack Obama said this week that there were “direct links” to Iran’s government, which has rejected the allegation.
Two men were charged with conspiracy to use C-4 plastic explosives to murder Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir and attack Saudi installations in the U.S. Targets included “foreign government facilities associated with Saudi Arabia and with another country,” the U.S. said in a complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan.
Increased Economic Sanctions
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she supports increased economic sanctions, especially against Iran’s Central Bank, with black lists of any foreign country or company that does business with the Central Bank.
Without some discussions to force Iran to change its policies, “we are on a collision course,” Feinstein said on “Fox News Sunday” program. “If we want to avoid it, we have to take action to avoid it.”
She rejected a call from retired U.S. General Jack Keane, an architect of the troop surge in Iraq, for the U.S. to engage in covert operations to kill members of Iran’s Quds Force. Feinstein said that, while Quds leaders were aware of the plot, there’s no evidence that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the highest ranking religious and political authority in the country, knew of it.
“It probably would escalate into a war, and the question is: Do we want to go to war with Iran at this time?” Feinstein said. “My judgment is no. We have our hands full with Iraq, with Afghanistan, with the deteriorating relationship with Pakistan.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected the U.S. allegations in a Tehran meeting today. “Each day they try to campaign against Iran,” Ahmadinejad said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
Khamenei warned the U.S. that any action taken will be met with a “resolute” response, according to the Associated Press.
“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,” the AP said, citing a report on Iran’s state television.