After ‘Bizarre’ U.S. Report of Assassination:
JOHANNESBURG (Dispatches) -- South African Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor says her country is "as surprised as its Iranian friends” after learning about a U.S. report claiming that Tehran planned to assassinate the American ambassador to Johannesburg.
"It’s been a very strange public statement and of course our friends in Iran are as surprised as we were,” Pandor said in an interview with SABC News, the full version of which was to be broadcasted later Friday.
"I find it surprising, why would Iran being a very good friend of South Africa come and commit a horrendous act in a country which has been a good friend to Iran, and of such a nature?” she added.
"I can only describe it as bizarre and let me stop there.”
The flimsy U.S. media report, quoting unnamed officials, claimed that Iran had sought to assassinate U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks in retaliation for the January assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander, General Qassem Soleimani.
The Iranian foreign ministry vehemently denied the "baseless” report, saying it was part of "repetitive and rotten methods to create an anti-Iranian atmosphere.”
Ministry spokesman Saeid Khatibzadeh posted a tweet in which he advised American journalists to beware of falling into the trap of U.S. politicians’ efforts "to peddle lies.”
"U.S. warmongers have always used gullible ‘journalists’ to sell their folly. Under Bush they used them to sell the $7 trillion Iraq War. Now they are at it again, using Politico to peddle lies,” he wrote.
U.S. President Donald Trump referred to the report to threaten that "any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!”.
Iran’s Government spokesman Ali Rabiei expressed regret that "the president of a country who has claims to global management and order would make hasty, agenda-fueled and dubious remarks on such a weak basis.”
Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations complained to the world body over Trump’s threat, warning that the Islamic Republic will not hesitate to exercise its right to self-defense in the event of any American military adventurism.
In letters addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and President of the Security Council Abdou Abarry, Majid Takht-Ravanchi said Trump had threatened Iran with an attack and made "a baseless allegation” against the country over an alleged assassination plot.
"This is not the first time that the President of the United States has threatened to use force against Iran. Following the horrific assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani, the Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran, on 3 January 2020 (S/2020/13), and in the course of 3 to 5 January 2020, he threatened on five different occasions to use force against Iran (S/2020/16),” Takht-Ravanchi said in his letter.
On January 4, Trump threatened to target 52 sites, some "at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture” if Tehran took revenge for the terrorist U.S. assassination.
"We seriously warn about any further military adventurism against Iran by the United States that must bear the full responsibility for all consequences,” Takht-Ravanchi wrote.
Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif blasted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as a "habitual liar”, saying he was seeking to deceive the U.S. president and "sucker him into mother of all quagmires by leaking a new false alarm.”
"The habitual liar bamboozled Donald Trump into assassinating ISIS’ enemy #1 by raising a false alarm. Now he’s trying to sucker him into mother of all quagmires by leaking a new false alarm,” he tweeted.