Feinstein calls for sanctions on Central Bank of Iran, no attacks on Quds Force

The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Sunday called for blacklisting foreign countries and companies that do business with the Central Bank of Iran in the wake of an alleged assassination plot on U.S. soil but warned against reprisal attacks against Iranian intelligence forces.

"I don't think the sanctions have been as complete as they should be," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on Fox News Sunday about existing sanctions against Iran. "I wish they had sanctioned the Central Bank of Iran. That would affect oil, and maybe that's why they didn't do it, but that makes a big difference."

Feinstein's remarks come after host Chris Wallace pointed out that the U.S. has passed 19 executive orders and seven laws sanctioning Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Since 2006, Wallace added, the United Nations has passed five sets of sanctions.

On Thursday, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence told the Senate Banking Committee that the Obama administration is "looking very actively" at sanctions against the Central Bank if it can get other countries on board.

Feinstein said that like many Americans, when she was first briefed about the alleged plot against Saudi Arabia's ambassador in the beginning of September, "I didn't believe it either."

"It sounded doubtful because of the cast of the characters," she said. But signals intelligence and the confession of the used-car salesman who has been arrested in the case have persuaded her that "the case is dead bang."

"It's real all right."

Feinstein said there's "no evidence" that the plot reached Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, but there's evidence the head of the elite Quds Force knew.

"This is an unusual thing," Feinstein said. "Iran reaches out around Iran, but to cross to the other side of the world and try and attack in this country is an escalation… I don't think this is just an isolated thing that suddenly came up when they have never done these kinds of things before."

She said the U.S. should be on alert for other plots in other countries, but did not reveal any specifics. Still, she dismissed calls for attacks against the Quds Force.

"It probably would escalate into a war, and the question is do we want to go to war with Iran at this time," Feinstein said. "My judgment is no. We have our hands full with Iraq, with Afghanistan, with the deteriorating relationship with Pakistan. Our country should not be looking to go to war.  We should be looking to stop bad behavior, short of war."