Sarkozy for tighter Iran sanctions after assassination plot

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday voiced deep concern over a US-alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington and said the West should harden sanctions against Tehran.

"The Americans have given us extremely precise information which shows the credibility of this information and the drift of the Iranian leaders is extremely worrying," he said in an interview to AFP and French radio stations RCJ and Radio J.

The West must react "by hardening sanctions", he said, adding that Iran's stand on its controversial nuclear programme and its relations with Arab neighbours were also extremely preoccupying.

Iran has fiercely denied any involvement in the thwarted plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington which US authorities revealed on October 11.

US President Barack Obama has vowed Iran will "pay a price" for what he says is incontrovertible proof it had a hand in trying to contract a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the hit.

The US Justice Department and FBI say the alleged plot leads back to officials inside the Quds Force, a special operations outfit within Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

Quds Force personnel are said to have transferred nearly $100,000 to the bank account used by a member of the Mexican drug cartel who was really a paid US informant.

The money was allegedly a down payment for a $1.5-million-dollar hit on the Saudi ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, possibly through the bombing of a Washington restaurant.

Iranian-American dual national Mansour Arbabsiar is currently being held in a US jail pending trial.

Sarkozy, when asked if Iran was seeking a confrontation, said: "There are a certain number of elements which make us think that."

© 2011 AFP

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