- Iran denies targeting Ambassador Lana Marks.
- Iran says it will go after those involved in General Qasem Soleimani’s slaying.
- US security agencies are monitoring the situation.
Iranian Major General Hossein Salami has denied claims about Iran targeting the US Ambassador to South Africa. The story, which was first reported by Politico, indicated that the Iranian leadership was looking to take out Ambassador Lana Marks in retaliation for the killing of Iranian major General Qasem Soleimani earlier this year.
Gen. Salami has said that Iran has no such intention, and underlined that his country is only interested in going after those involved directly or indirectly in the assassination of Soleimani.
The following is an excerpt from his statement, as reported by Iranian news sources:
“Do you think we will hit a female ambassador in South Africa in revenge for the murder of General Soleimani?
We only target those who were directly or indirectly involved in the assassination of top commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani. The Americans should know that we will strike anyone who contributed to the cowardly assassination of General Soleimani, and this is a serious message.”
An intelligence source reportedly revealed to Fox News that American security agencies were taking the development seriously.
Following the drone strike that killed Soleimani in January, there were fears that Iran would retaliate in a major way. It, however, reacted by firing a barrage of missiles at two US military bases in Iraq. No casualties were reported, but some soldiers suffered traumatic brain injuries.
The Two Countries Currently Locked in a UN Standoff
The US is currently looking to extend its arms export embargo deadline on Iran. This is to prevent it from developing its military might and spreading its influence across the globe.
US officials have signaled that they have imposed some punitive measures against the Middle Eastern nation even as the UN Security Council voids the legality of the move.
The US seeks to reimpose sanctions that prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons and obtaining materials that could directly or indirectly contribute to the development of its nuclear program. Countries that trade with the nation will be required to inspect all exports to the nation to ensure this.
Iran is regarded by the US and Israel as a major regional menace. It supports numerous terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah, and strives to undermine American political influence in the Middle East.
The sanctions were suspended in 2015 following a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran. Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo underlined the US government’s resolve to prevent an expiration of the embargo:
“We will return to the United Nations to reimpose sanctions so that the arms embargo will become permanent next week. We believe deeply that this is good for the peoples of all nations.”
The United Kingdom, Germany, and France have announced that that the United Nations will continue to support sanctions relief for the embargoed nation.
In a letter addressed to the UN Security Council last week, the three member-states said that a reimposition of UN sanctions at this time would have no would legal effect. “We have worked tirelessly to preserve the nuclear agreement and remain committed to do so,” they said.