Iran's supreme leader yesterday warned that Tehran would react strongly to any "inappropriate measures" imposed by Western powers over its alleged masterminding of a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
The comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came as Saudi Arabia formally requested United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to notify the Security Council of Iran's actions – a move which could lead to a fresh round of sanctions against the country.
Iran's leadership has remained largely tight-lipped since the US on Tuesday accused the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, of plotting to assassinate Adel al-Jubeir with the help of a Mexican drug cartel.
"Any inappropriate measure against Iran, whether political or security-related, will be strongly confronted by the Iranian nation," Ayatollah Khamenei said.
Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also addressed the US government's allegations yesterday, saying: "Iran is a civilised nation and doesn't need to resort to assassination."
Manssor Arbabsiar, an Iranian-American used-car salesman, and his alleged co-conspirator were charged in relation to the plot last week. According to court documents, he paid a man he believed to be a cartel member – but was in fact a US government informant – $1.5m to kill the ambassador at the behest of a senior member of the Quds Force.