Allegation of bid to kill Saudi ambassador termed “childish, amateur game”, as US slaps sanctions on Iranian airline.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, has said that an alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington, DC was fabricated by the US to cause a rift between Tehran and Riyadh, and to divert attention from US economic problems.
In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera in Tehran on Monday, Ahmadinejad said that anyone who heard the claims “laughs”, but warned the US to be mindful of the allegations it made.
“We’re not worried about expressing our opposition … The US administration is sorely mistaken. The US administration might want to divert attention from what’s going on inside the US,” he said, during an interview broadcast live.
“The economic problems of the US are very serious, and by accusing Iran it’s not going to solve any problem.”
Pressed to give a firm answer as to whether or not the US plot allegations carried merit, Ahmadinejad said: “We have categorically rejected this accusation.”
“Terror is for people…who don’t have any logic. The people of Iran are pro-logic,” he said.
Last week, US authorities said that two Iranians were involved in the “plot directed by elements of the Iranian government” to kill the Saudi ambassador as part of a major “terror” attack.
Eric Holder, the US attorney general, said factions within the Iranian government were involved in the plot, which was “conceived, sponsored and directed from Iran”.
Despite the significance of the allegations, Ahmadinejad said that Tehran would not launch an investigation into the matter.
On being told that Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, had told the UN chief that there was strong evidence linking Iran to the murder plot, Ahmadinejad described the UN and its Security Council as undemocratic.
“The Security Council is dominated by the US, and the US has been against us for 30 years. The UN is not really the UN because the General Assembly is not the decision-making body. At the UN everything is ruled by a body in which there are five countries,” he said.
Ahmadinejad also claimed the US “terror plot” allegations were constructed on false evidence designed to cause conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran and “create some conflicts and discord” within his country.
Geneive Abdo, of the National Security Network in Washington DC, told Al Jazeera that Ahmadinejad’s claim that the US was trying to cause a regional rift was weak.
“There has been a … rift between Iran and Saudi Arabia for many years now, so that was a bit ludicrous,” she said.
“I think that was probably one of his weakest arguments in the interview … That was a very, very sort of a lame argument.”
Later in the interview, the Iranian president said that Iran and the US were not on a collision course, but that the core of the issue between the two nations was America’s “interference” in the region.
Addressing the US, he said: “Keep your interference to yourself” – before clarifying that Iran had “always had respect for the people of the US. We love them. We love Americans”.
In another development, Britain has frozen the assets of five men over their suspected links to the alleged “terror plot”.
“HM Treasury has designated five individuals under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act 2010 in relation to the terrorist activities of Iran and the Quds Force,” a government spokesman said on Tuesday.
“We will be consulting with partners, including our EU colleagues, Saudi Arabia, and the US, on how to take forward further action,” he added.