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Iran 'Ready to Study' Alleged Assassination Plot, Official Says

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran is "ready to study" allegations by the U.S. that elements of the Iranian government "directed" a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to America in or outside a crowded Washington, D.C. restaurant, Iran's foreign minister said Monday.

Washington has been trying to "mislead the world public opinion" against Iran, but the Middle Eastern nation is now "ready to study the case patiently, urging Washington to present any existing documents on the issue," Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported, paraphrasing Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Salehi made the comments while warning Saudi officials to be "cautious towards such U.S. scenarios," IRNA said.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week the DEA and FBI had disrupted a plot "conceived, sponsored and...directed from Iran" to murder the Saudi Arabian ambassador in the U.S. capital which potentially would have been followed up by bombings of the Saudi Arabian and Israeli embassies. The U.S. said an Iranian-American, 56-year-old Manssor Arbabsiar of Corpus Christi, Texas, was working for elements of the Iranian government -- specifically Iran's elite military unit the Quds force -- when he attempted to hire hitmen from the feared Zetas Mexican drug cartel to carry out the hit, but Arbabsiar was unwittingly speaking to a DEA informant from the start.

Iranian officials had previously said the alleged plot was nothing more than a "fabrication" and a "politically-motivated move" in a new wave of anti-Iranian propaganda.

However, top U.S. officials, including President Obama, said the U.S. is confident that the allegations made against Iran could be clearly backed up by evidence.

"We would not be bringing forward a case unless we knew exactly how to support all the allegations," Obama said Friday.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said last week the U.S. had been in direct contact with Iran and had also briefed representatives for a number of other nations on the details of the alleged plot.

Nuland said Thursday that while the scheme seems "like something out of a movie... As you begin to give more detail on what we knew and when we knew it and how we knew it, it has credibility."

Obama said during his Friday address Iran "would pay a price" for their alleged actions -- even if it was not clear Iran's top leaders had participated in or were even aware of the alleged plot.

"Even if at the highest levels there was not detailed operational knowledge, there has to be accountability with respect to anybody in the Iranian government engaging in this kind of activity," the president said. "The important thing is for Iran to answer the international community why anybody in their government is engaging in these kinds of activities."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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