Lawmakers say alleged Iran plot was "very real"

WASHINGTON Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:57pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The heads of the intelligence committees in the Congress said on Sunday an alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador should be taken very seriously, with one warning that the United States and Iran could be on a "collision course."

Pushing back against questions about whether the plot was a serious effort endorsed by top Iranian officials, House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said it appeared amateurish only because the United States was able to thwart it so early in the planning stages.

"We were very fortunate," Rogers said on ABC's "This Week" program. "We got to see this, we the U.S. government got to see this unfold from the beginning."

Rogers and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said the United States should respond aggressively but stopped short of calling for military action against Iran, instead pushing for tougher economic sanctions.

Feinstein said she was initially skeptical when she was first briefed about the alleged plot in early September but now believed "it's very real."

U.S. authorities said on Tuesday they had broken up a plan by two men linked to Iran's security agencies to assassinate Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir in Washington. One of the suspects was arrested last month and the other is at large.

President Barack Obama said on Thursday that Iran -- already at odds with Western governments over its nuclear program -- would face the toughest possible sanctions and the United States would not take any options off the table.

"Our country should not be looking to go to war," Feinstein told the "Fox News Sunday" program. "We should be looking to stop bad behavior, short of war."

Feinstein and Rogers said the United States should push Russia and China to get behind sanctions, arguing the two powers have scuttled past efforts to crack down on Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

"Put pressure on the Chinese and the Russians and say, listen, you're either going to stand with the nation that is engaged in nation-state terrorism or you're going to stand with the rest of the international community," Rogers said.

Asked whether there should be a military response, Rogers said the option should not be taken "off the table."

"I think there are a lot of things that we should do to make sure that they understand this is unacceptable," he said.

Feinstein said Iran is "escalating" its nuclear development programs and the assassination plot is one more reason to act now to make clear Tehran must change its policies.

"Absent that at one time or another, if you project out a number of years, we are on a collision course," she said.

(Reporting by Dave Clarke; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (4)
Rob111 wrote:
This story about an alleged “plot” by the Iranian government purported to be involving an goofy used car salesman from Texas, is a bit far fetched even for Reuters. Every day, the first two lines are dedicated to some new revelation followed directly by Senator Feinstein’s comments which are repeats of the repeats. Senator Feinstein is a dual Israeli-American citizen. Why do you think she’s taking such an aggressive stance? How about that?

Look no one wants to go to war, so just calm down, relax and go back to reporting on the miserable economy.

Oct 19, 2011 1:32am EDT  --  Report as abuse
5485 wrote:
Politicians are desperate to please Israel before the elections, so we will end up bombing Iran nuclear plants

Oct 19, 2011 5:50am EDT  --  Report as abuse
SoundsBogus wrote:
Oh no, Lawmakers are that gullible?

Oct 19, 2011 4:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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