National Security

Iran considering assassination plot against US diplomat to avenge Qassem Soleimani: report

U.S. intelligence officials reportedly believe that Iranian officials are considering a plan to assassinate the U.S. ambassador to South Africa in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian general, in January.

Politico reported Sunday that a U.S. government official who has seen the intelligence and another familiar with intelligence reports confirmed the reported plot, which if carried out would represent a major escalation of the simmering conflict between U.S. and Iranian forces.

National Security Council officials did not immediately return a request for comment on Politico’s reporting from The Hill.

One official told Politico that the intelligence indicated that an Iranian embassy in Pretoria, one of South Africa’s major cities, is involved in discussions about possibly assassinating Lana Marks, the U.S. ambassador in the country, and stated that the intelligence has become more specific about the plot in recent weeks.

Intelligence community officials including the director of national intelligence and CIA declined to comment to Politico on the allegation, and Iran’s United Nations mission did not return the news outlet’s request for comment.

Information indicating that Iranian officials were considering assassinating Marks has reportedly circulated in the intelligence community for months, even as President Trump has vowed to “deal with Iran within four weeks” should he win reelection in November.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have been at an all-time high for months, as U.S. officials have kept up a campaign of pressure against the Iranian government by rolling back sanctions previously relaxed under the U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement, signed under the Obama administration, which the Trump administration announced plans to exit in 2018.

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