American media had earlier reported that that Washington believed Iran was plotting to assassinate US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks in retaliation for the killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq earlier this year.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has slammed US President Donald Trump for threatening Tehran over an alleged assassination plot against a US diplomat.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Zarif targeted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as a “habitual liar” who had “bamboozled” Trump into ordering the assassination of Iran’s top anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qasem Soleimani in the Iraqi capital Baghdad earlier in the year.
Referring to a Politico report that cited unnamed Washington officials as claiming Iran was hatching a covert operation to assassinate US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks ahead of the November American presidential election, Zarif said Pompeo was yet again attempting to deceive the US president and “sucker him into the mother of all quagmires by leaking a new false alarm”.
Driving home the narrative that the former CIA director was a “compulsive liar”, Zarif attached to his tweet a photo of Pompeo, who acknowledged before an audience in 2019 that the American spy agency trained employees to “lie, cheat and steal”.
On Monday, US President Donald Trump had cited “press reports” that Iran “may be planning an assassination, or other attack, against the United States” in retaliation for the Washington-ordered killing of General Soleimani in Iraq in January.
Trump warned of a potential response to any Iranian attack that “will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!”
During a virtual discussion with Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to disclose intelligence information concerning the reported Iranian assassination plot.
However, Pompeo said the Iranians “didn’t need an action by the United States to conduct assassination campaigns around the world” as this has been “their model for 40 years”.
As Tehran dismissed the current allegations, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeid Khatibzadeh advised US officials to “stop resorting to hackneyed and outworn methods to create an Iranophobic atmosphere on the international arena”.
The spokesman underscored that the current reports fall in line with the US politicians’ efforts “to peddle lies”.
Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei also cautioned Washington against making another “strategic mistake” after Trump issued his Twitter broadside.
“We hope that they do not make a new strategic mistake. In that case, they will face our [and the] resistance [front’s] response,” said Rabiei at a news conference on Tuesday.
Qasem Soleimani was assassinated in a targeted attack by the United States in January, with Washington claiming that the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) had been planning numerous attacks against US personnel and infrastructure in the region. The Trump administration, however, has not provided any exact evidence of the alleged attack plans.
General Soleimani died in a drone strike along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi, and their companions, as their vehicle was targeted outside Baghdad International Airport on 3 January.
Vowing “harsh revenge”, Iran launched missile attacks targeting US military facilities in Erbil, Iraq and the country’s Ayn al-Asad Air Base, which houses American military forces.
The Iraqi parliament subsequently voted overwhelmingly in favour of a law obliging the complete withdrawal of all American-led forces from the country’s soil.