President Donald Trump on Monday warned Iran that any eye-for-eye attack to avenge the U.S. strike that killed terror mastermind and Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani would be met with vast retribution.
Ever since the Jan. 3 drone strike that killed Soleimani, there have been ripples that Iran might take extreme action in response.
Concerns about an attack were stoked Sunday when Politico published a report saying U.S. officials are aware of an Iran-backed assassination plot against Lana Marks, the U.S. ambassador to South Africa.
Trump issued his warning on Twitter.
“According to press reports, Iran may be planning an assassination, or other attack, against the United States in retaliation for the killing of terrorist leader Soleimani, which was carried out for his planning a future attack, murdering U.S. Troops, and the death & suffering caused over so many years,” he tweeted. “Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!”
…caused over so many years. Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2020
“She is just one of several U.S. officials that American intelligence agencies believe Tehran is considering for retaliation for the killing of Soleimani,” Fox News said of Marks.
In its report, Politico, quoting “a U.S. government official familiar with the issue and another official who has seen the intelligence,” said the plot against the ambassador emerged from the more general Iranian effort to retaliate for the death of Soleimani and was not the only option under consideration, although it appeared to be the most advanced.
A warning about the alleged plot was shared in the CIA World Intelligence Review, Politico reported.
Marks, 66, has been told she may be a target.
Why the ambassador is a potential target is unclear, according to the Politico report, which noted that its sources said South Africa is a nation where Iran operates “clandestine networks.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry denied the Politico report, according to the Times of Israel.
“Such baseless remarks are part of the Trump administration’s counter-intelligence campaign against Iran,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said. “The U.S. regime’s resort to allegations and lies against Iran on the threshold of the U.S. presidential election and concurrent with its pressures to use the U.N. Security Council mechanisms with the aim of increasing pressure on the Iranian nation was predictable.”
In a Tuesday interview, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo underscored the threat posed by Iran.
According to a transcript of the interview posted on the State Department’s website, Pompeo told French media that “a few more than 30 days from now, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be permitted under international law to purchase weapon systems and to sell weapon systems. That’s what the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action permitted. And so while the [European Union] has made a different decision about that agreement, they share our concern about the extension of that arms embargo.
“Unfortunately, they’ve done nothing yet that would lead us to being able to extend it, so the United States has taken the responsibility.
“We are going to act in a way — and we have acted in a way — that will prevent Iran from being able to purchase Chinese tanks and Russian air defense systems and resell weapons to Hezbollah to undermine the very efforts that President [Emmanuel] Macron is ably trying to lead in Lebanon.
“It’s irreconcilable that you would permit Iran to have more money, more wealth, and more arms, and still be working to try and help disconnect Hezbollah from the disaster that they have created inside of Lebanon.
“We have this policy, right, President Trump is committed to it, and we’re going to continue to defend the international order to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from returning to its malign activity.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.