Since the discovery of the plot by elements of the Iranian regime to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States on American soil, President Barack Obama has said it is time to apply "the toughest sanctions to Iran and continue to mobilize the international community to make sure that Iran is further and further isolated and that it pays a price for this kind of behavior."
The murder-for-hire plot by Iran adds a new dimension to Iranian misbehavior, which already includes nuclear proliferation, regional destabilization, support for terrorism, and abuse of human rights. To plot the murder of a diplomat from Saudi Arabia, to take place in Washington using Mexican drug traffickers is a new internationalization and an escalation not seen before.
The U.S., along with Britain and Canada, recently imposed sanctions against five individuals involved in the assassination scheme: Manssor Arbabsiar, the dual Iranian American national tasked with arranging the killing; and four members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Qods [kuds] Force, including its commander, Qasem Soleimani, who was previously designated by the U.S. for his role in human rights abuses in Syria. In a separate action, the U.S. designated Iran's commercial airliner, Mahan Air, for secretly ferrying IRGC-Qods Force operatives, weapons and funds on its flights.
In testimony before Congress, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said the United States "is hard at work meticulously and rationally laying out the facts of this plot" to the international community. "All countries," she said, "should deny Qods Force officers any platform to operate within their territory and work with us even harder to enforce all sanctions already on the books.
"This administration is committed to addressing the continued threat posed by the Iranian regime's nuclear ambitions, its support for international terrorism, its destabilizing activities in the region and its human rights abuses at home."
The goal ultimately is to induce the Iranian government to change course: engage meaningfully with the international community on its nuclear activities, stop its support for terror, and accord the Iranian people their fundamental human rights and freedoms.