UK tightens embassy security and vows action over ‘Iran bomb plot’

Nicholas Cecil, Chief Political Correspondent
12 Oct 2011

Britain was reviewing security at its embassy in Tehran today following the alleged Iranian-backed plot to murder the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

The UK was also in talks with America and other allies over imposing further sanctions on Iran as diplomatic tensions escalated.

The USA and Israel do not have diplomatic missions in the Iranian capital so the British embassy is seen by security experts as a target.

A Foreign Office source said: “We keep security under constant review.” The US authorities said yesterday that they had broken up a plot by two men linked to Iran’s security agencies to assassinate Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir.

One was arrested last month while the other was believed to be in Iran. Iran denied the charges and expressed outrage at the accusations. US President Barack Obama called the alleged plot a “flagrant violation of US and international law” and Saudi Arabia said it was “despicable”.

The United States said Tehran must be held to account and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed hope that countries who have hesitated to enforce existing sanctions on Iran would now “go the extra mile”.

The Foreign Office in London said: “We will support any further measures in the light of this to hold Iran accountable for its actions – if proven.”

US officials identified the two alleged plotters as Gholam Shakuri, who is a member of the Quds Force, and Manssor Arbabsiar, who was arrested on September 29 when he arrived at JFK International Airport in New York from Mexico.

Arbabsiar, 56, who is a naturalised US citizen and holds an Iranian passport, initially cooperated with authorities after being arrested.

The State Department issued a three-month worldwide travel alert for American citizens, warning of the potential for anti-US action, including within the United States.

At a news conference, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the convoluted plot, involving monitored international calls, Mexican drug money and an attempt to blow up the ambassador in a Washington restaurant, could have been straight from a Hollywood movie.

Attorney-General Eric Holder alleged that the plot was the work of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the guardian of Iran’s 32-year-old revolution, and the Quds Force, its covert, operational arm.

“I think one has to be concerned about the chilling nature of what the Iranian government attempted to do here,” he told a news conference.

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